NATO is to establish a centre of excellence in France, dedicated solely to the Space domain.
The French Ministry of the Armed Forces announced on 4 February that the alliance had accepted a French proposal to site a new centre in Toulouse.
“The ‘centre of excellence’ label is part of the Higher Education Pact implemented by the General Directorate of International Relations and Strategy. The goal [of this pact] is to regenerate and develop the pool of French researchers linked to defence,” the Ministry of the Armed Forces said.
No details pertaining to when the new Space centre would be established and who will staff it were disclosed.
In 2019, NATO declared space to be an operational domain alongside air, land, sea, and cyber. This allowed the alliance to improve efficiencies and synchronise efforts across multiple domains, as well as within the space domain. Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); navigation and timing; weather; ballistic missile defence; and communication are among the core competencies of what NATO calls ‘Space Domain Awareness’. The alliance provides its commanders with Space Domain Awareness by drawing on data, products, and services made available through co-ordination with NATO member states.
News of the new Space centre of excellence in France comes some four months after NATO founded its Space Centre at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Housed within existing Allied Air Command (AIRCOM) facilities on the base, the centre is currently staffed with experts from Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States, with plans to introduce additional nations and personnel over the coming year.