French Space Agency

Operator Profile

Key Facts

Current Title:
Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales
English Title:
National Centre for Space Studies
First Established:
ICAO Code:


Narrative Summary

The Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) is the French national space agency. It was first established in 1961. Initial rocket launches were from Hammaguir in Algeria, but in 1969 a new launch facility in French Guiana was completed. It does not appear that any CNES owned aircraft were used to support launch operations. CNES was originally responsible for training French astronauts, and in 1986 formed a subsidiary company called Novespace to provide zero-g experience by means of parabolic flights in an aircraft. The first aircraft, a Caravelle, was ready to use for this purpose in 1988. This aircraft was later replaced by an A300 and more recently by an A310. Since 2009 CNES has been developing an airborne satellite launch vehicle called EOLE. The first flight of a sub-scale UAV demonstrator took place in October 2013.

Key Dates

19 December 1961    CNES first established.
1969    French Guiana Space Centre completed.
1988    First aircraft obtained.
2014    New zero-g training aircraft delivered.

Current Status

The CNES aircraft are used for Zero-g training and space science research.

Future Plans

No plan known.


Special Markings

The Caravelle operated in a simple white and bare metal colour scheme with DGA CNES and ZERO-G titles. A parabolic flight logo appeated on the fin. The two Airbus aircraft operate in an overall white colour scheme with a two-tone blue logo on the fin of a person floating person space. The titles ZERO-G appear on the fuselage sides.

Aircraft Serial Numbers

CNES aircraft carry French civil registrations, e.g. A310 F-WNOV.

Unit/Base Codes

Coding system not used


Aircraft Designations

None – Manufacturers designations used

Current Aircraft Inventory

Aircraft Type Total Del’d Total Now Role Origin
Airbus A310-300 1 1 Zero-g Training German AF
Dassault Falcon 20 1 1 Research ex-civil
EOLE 1 1 Research France

All-Time Aircraft Used List

Aircraft Type Quantity Service Entry Out of Service Origin
Airbus A300B2 1 1995 2014 ex-civil
Airbus A310-300 1 2014 current German AF
Dassault Falcon 20 1 ? current ex-civil
EOLE 1 2013 current France
Sud Aviation Caravelle 1 1988 1995 ex-civil

Aircraft NOT Used

No false reports known.


Main Headquarters

Centre national d’├ętudes spatiales, 2 place Maurice Quentin, 75 039 PARIS CEDEX 01, FRANCE.

Organisational Structure

The zero-g aircraft are operated by a CNES subsidiary called Novespace.

Current Unit Assignments

Not applicable

Historical Unit Assignments

Not applicable.

All-Time Flying Units List

Not applicable.

Air Bases

Current Air Bases

The zero-g Caravelle operated from Bretigny Flight Test Centre, but the with the arrival of the Airbus A300 the operation moved to Bordeaux-Merignac.

All-Time Air Bases Used List

As above.

More Information


French Aviation Bibliography – to be added


No feature articles known.


Official Website
wikipedia: CNES
Air Zero-g
wikipedia: Airbus A300 Zero-G

Any further photographs illustrating this air arm would be welcome.

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