France debates its near-space policy

To start off 2023, the Chief of Staff of the French Air Force organized a colloquium on Very High Altitude Operations, meaning operations between conventional airplane altitudes, under 20km, and “orbital space” above 100km. It featured Air Force officials, but also the companies and research institutes involved in developing platforms able to fly at these altitudes.

Industrial activities


The first roundtable was focused on the various projects in development by French companies. The first speaker to take the floor was the CEO of Thales Alenia Space, which is developping the Stratobus high-altitude maneuvrable balloon. Stratobus is a 115m-long dirigible able to fly in the stratosphere, where the winds are relatively moderate compared to lower altitudes. To keep on station, it is covered in solar cells that power electric motors. I covered it in detail in this previous article:


The CEO gave a quick overview of the…

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