WASHINGTON — Following a meeting Nov. 10 with French President Emmanuel Macron, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris announced both nations agreed to expand cooperation on space and cybersecurity issues.

The U.S. and France will engage in a “comprehensive dialogue on space,” the White House said in a news release. 

Representatives from U.S. civil and national security space agencies and their French counterparts will establish “regular bilateral dialogue to ensure a whole-of-government approach to space cooperation.”

The White House said space cooperation will focus on several areas of concern to both nations:

  • Addressing the climate crisis
  • Expanding the frontiers of space
  • Enhancing the quality of and access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education
  • Consulting on norms, guidelines, principles and rules to ensure sustainability and security of space activities
  • Enabling a sustainable space economy

To help tackle climate change, the U.S. and France agreed to step up the exchange of Earth observation satellite data and conduct joint analysis of climate change risks.

Harris, who chairs the U.S. National Space Council, also announced that the United States is committed to joining the Space Climate Observatory (SCO) and “looks forward to working with France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) to finalize the SCO Charter.”

The SCO was officially launched by Macron in 2019 as a consortium intended to sponsor projects that help make data from space more accessible to organizations to inform decisions and measures to mitigate and respond to the climate crisis. 

To date, 33 space agencies and international organizations have joined the consortium.

France has the third oldest national space program in the world, after the U.S. and Russia, and the largest space program in Europe. France in July 2019 released its first French Space Defense Strategy, which elevated the role of French military space programs.

Harris after the meeting with Macron also announced the U.S. will support the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace, a voluntary commitment to work with the international community to advance cybersecurity and preserve an open, interoperable and reliable internet.

Harris visited France at the invitation of Macron. Relations between the U.S. and France deteriorated after it was revealed in September that the U.S. and the U.K. agreed to sell nuclear submarines to Australia, which derailed a previous deal Australia had signed to buy diesel submarines from France.

The White House on Thursday said Harris “welcomes President Macron’s expression of France’s intent to join the Artemis Accords, a coalition of like-minded countries committed to ensuring that space exploration is conducted responsibly and sustainably.”

Launched in October 2020, the Artemis Accords are voluntary, non-binding principles to promote cooperative, peaceful civil exploration of outer space.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...