Paris, France: Recently, the European Commission (EC) proposed removal of Europe’s flagship environmental programme, Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES), from the commission’s multiyear financial budget. Hence, the European Space Agency (ESA) sent letters to its member countries asking them to protest this decision of the EC, ESA’s Director of Earth observation, Volker Liebig, said. There are 19 member countries of the ESA.
ESA also will take its case to the European Parliament in an effort to find a place in the commission’s seven-year budget for the multibillion-dollar Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme, he added. Volker Liebig, whose directorate has already spent more than approximately USD 2.2 billion preparing GMES and its fleet of Sentinel satellites, specifically denied a commission allegation that GMES is, or threatens soon to be, over budget.
In its proposed seven-year budget, the commission — which is the executive arm of the 27-nation European Union — lumps GMES together with the European-led ITER next-generation nuclear reactor, which has suffered multiple cost overruns and is still years away from being fully operational.
Programs like these, the commission says in its budget proposal, should not be included in the fixed multiyear budget, which covers the period from 2014 to 2020. “This is just not true,” Liebig said of the commission’s assumption about GMES’s likely cost at completion.
Liebig said he was particularly surprised that the commission elected to include the Galileo satellite navigation constellation in its seven-year budget proposal despite the fact that the 30-satellite Galileo constellation is years behind schedule and, even after a recent effort to rein in costs, still expected to cost 40 percent more than its 3.4-billion-euro budget.
Liebig informed that GMES development is on schedule and within its budget, with the first of the Sentinel satellites to be launched in 2013. ESA and the commission have agreed to order identical copies of the first three Sentinel satellites to take advantage of scale economies offered by their contractors.
Source: Space News