Wednesday, 3 December 2014

European Ministers adopt Resolutions critical for ESA's future space agenda

Yesterday, ESA concluded a successful Council meeting at Ministerial Level in Luxembourg. Ministers in charge of space activities, from ESA’s 20 member states and Canada, took decisions expected to shape ESA’s future. The main topics under discussion were reflected in three Resolutions: on Europe’s access to space, on Europe’s space exploration strategy and on ESA evolution.

Resolution on Europe’s access to space

European Ministers gave the green light for the further development of a new family of launchers to replace Ariane 5, Europe’s existing workhorse. Ministers agreed to spend about 8.2 billion euros over the next 10 years, to develop the new Ariane 6 launcher and to upgrade Vega launcher.

The aim of this agreement is for ESA to ensure its independent access to space and to maintain Europe’s share in the world’s commercial satellite market. By using technologies from the current Ariane and Vega launchers it is hoped to cut down manufacturing costs and allow Ariane 6 to be competitively priced.

Resolution on Space Exploration Strategy

By adopting this Resolution, Ministers took key decisions in relation to ESA’s three destinations for exploration (Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Moon and Mars). Member State’s governments agreed the funding of 820 million euros to support the International Space Station until 2017. Part of this funding is the development by ESA, of NASA’s new Multi Purpose Crew Vehicle Service Module drawing upon the expertise gained with the ATV.

Ministers also secured funding for ExoMars programme which involves two missions to Mars in 2016 and 2018, as well as for lunar exploration activities and MREP-2.

Resolution on ESA evolution

This Resolution covers the vision for ESA until 2030, which is to maintain its role as one of the world's leading space institutions. It addresses the long standing issue of the relationship between ESA and EU. Ministers confirmed a relationship that keeps ESA as an independent, world-class intergovernmental space organization and makes ESA the long-term partner of choice of the EU.

It should be noted, that this mode of co-operation is also accepted by the EU. EU Ministers at Competitiveness Council that will take place on the 4th and 5th of December will be asked to adopt Council Conclusions entitled “Underpinning the European space renaissance: orientations and future challenges” which refer to this relationship of partnership.

You can find the three Resolutions here.

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