Jean Blouvac, from the French space agency CNES, leads the development of the CALIPSO satellite from initial studies, through realization and ground tests, to the commissioning phase in orbit.
Blouvac says, "I believe I am one of the mission's precursors, I have been involved since very early in the definition of the project. From the end of 1997 and the beginning of 1998, our scientists were thinking of a space mission for clouds and aerosols with a lidar. But technically and programmatically all was to be done. How to accommodate the satellite? Who will operate it? How to share the data? How will it be selected by NASA ESSP program and by French program …"
Image left: Shown here is Jean Blouvac the CNES satellite manager for CALIPSO.
From the beginning of the mission, Jean Blouvac took the responsibility for the satellite development. He ensured the contractual and technical relationships with ALCATEL ALENIA Space, which manufactured the satellite from the US payload and the French PROTEUS bus. He also managed the technical interfaces between international partners. Finally he is one of the main team members of the space commissioning phase.
"It is greatly exciting to have the opportunity to follow a project in its entirety, from a single sheet of paper to its realization with a satellite in orbit providing scientific data.It is also fascinating to have this opportunity with international cooperation -- allowing to meet and to work with such a great variety of people and to have some for friends now. All was not easy, we had to face some technical difficulties (replacement of equipment’s units, demating of the payload) and some programmatic crises (delays, unexpected costs, even finally a long strike) but what a reward after 7 attempts to see the liftoff, and nearly 1 hour later to hear in the main control room -- 'Telemetry on line!' -- meaning the satellite is alive and ready to start its mission."