Houston Spaceport collaborates with French Space Agency (CNES), Rice University on space exploration
March 18, 2024

HOUSTON- The Houston Spaceport joins Rice University and the Rice Space Institute and the French Space Agency (CNES) in excitement for the groundbreaking collaboration in fostering the workforce, resources and cutting-edge technology needed for humankind to make the next giant leap needed to continue space exploration.

Philippe Baptiste, President and CEO of the French Space Agency, the National Center for Space Studies (CNES), visited Rice University on March 18, 2024. The visit focused on fostering discussions on future collaborations between Rice University, CNES and the Houston Spaceport, a pivotal joint-use facility supporting NASA operations at Ellington Airport managed by the Houston Airport System.

During the visit, key stakeholders signed a letter of intent which signals a deeper commitment to enhancing industrial, economic, scientific, and technological partnerships between the French and Houston space ecosystems.

This collaboration signifies a significant milestone for the Houston Spaceport as it continues to expand its global footprint in space exploration. Axiom Space, Collins Aerospace and Intuitive Machines are some of the most important aerospace companies in the country, and they’re hard at work at the Houston Spaceport. Each company, a titan in its own right, is developing next-generation technology needed to one day launch everyday people into space, where they can live and explore. 

"Commercial space flight is our next great frontier, and I am proud to know Houston is blazing the trail," said Jim Szczesniak, Director of Aviation for Houston Airports. "The Houston Spaceport provides the location, labor and livability needed to support and sustain the international collaborative efforts needed to propel commercial spaceflight forward." 

Crucial partnerships between the Houston Spaceport, San Jacinto College and Texas Southern University are already helping to educate and expand the minds of the world’s next pilots, astronauts, aerospace technicians and engineers.

Thoughtful collaboration with the Rice Space Institute allows the Houston Spaceport to harness the brilliant minds of researchers and scientists who pour inspiration and confidence into the innovators of tomorrow. 

The French Space Agency brings a legacy of innovation and a commitment to pushing the frontiers of space exploration. The collaboration between CNES and the Houston Spaceport is a testament to the shared vision of both organizations to propel humanity's reach beyond our planet.

The Houston Spaceport, with its state-of-the-art facilities, will serve as a hub for these collaborative efforts. The Director for the Houston Spaceport is Arturo Machuca. 

In attendance were:

  • Reginald DesRoches, President of Rice University
  • Paul Cherukuri, Vice President of Innovation and Chief Innovation Officer at Rice University
  • David Alexander, Director of the Rice Space Institute
  • Valerie Baraban, French Consul General in Houston
  • Jim Szczesniak, Director of Aviation at Houston Airport System

Looking ahead, Rice University is poised to host the 36th annual Space Studies Program (SSP) by the France-based International Space University, further solidifying its position as a leading institution in the global space community. Rice University has a rich history in space exploration, dating back to 1959 when it initiated its first research collaborations with NASA shortly after the agency's establishment. Since then, Rice has maintained a leadership role in advancing space science and technology.