European ministers endorse ESA’s future in space

European ministers endorse ESA’s future in space

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Spain: Chaired by the Spanish Minister of Science, Innovation, and Universities, Pedro Duque, ESA’s Ministers in charge of space activities successfully concluded an Intermediate Ministerial Meeting (IMM18) at ESA’s European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) in Villanueva de la Cañada, Madrid, Spain. The Intermediate Ministerial Meeting is a milestone on the road to ‘Space19+’, ESA’s next Council at ministerial level which will be held in November 2019 in Seville, Spain.

Ministers in charge of space matters in the ESA Member States were presented with ESA’s proposal for the future of Europe in space, which will be submitted to them at Space19+.

This proposal contains a roadmap for ESA and EU to continue finance and implement space programmes in Europe in a sustainable and efficient way, it also lays out a vision for the internal functioning of the agency to fit the change of paradigm in the space sector, and last but not least, it contains ESA Director General’s proposal of space programmes to be carried out by the Agency after 2019.

This programmatic proposal is all-encompassing in that it addresses all aspects of space activities: science and exploration, applications, access to space, operations and R&D, including the emerging field of Space Safety and Security. This latter pillar is dedicated to the protection of our infrastructure by tackling challenges such as space weather, planetary defense from near Earth objects and space debris – with both mitigation and remediation aspects. In addition, further to cybersecurity, it proposes to enable the further use of space technology for concrete applications in the domain of safety and security on Earth (for example,  maritime safety and security – including autonomous shipping, disaster management, border security and support to air traffic safety through satellite communication).

The most important decisions facing Member States at Space19+ will be:

With respect to programmatic content:

  • to restore ESA’s science programme as the world leader in the physics of the Universe by reversing the long-standing decline in buying power of the Level of Resources;
  • to make Europe central to the new era of global space exploration – forward to the Moon and on to Mars – working with existing (e.g. US) and new partners (e.g. China);
  • to partner with industry to achieve economic growth and societal benefit in traditional applications fields as well as in the new emerging domain of space safety and security (for example, satellites in global 5G communications; managing threats from extreme space weather; enabling new opportunities and markets in space such as in-orbit servicing) through both traditional partnerships and projects as well as ones pushing for more industrial involvement and responsibility; and
  • to reinforce technical innovation spin-in and spin-off.

With respect to a solid ESA-EU partnership built on common developments:

  • to secure the continuity and evolution of the Copernicus Space Component;
  • to secure research and development activities in Navigation to be seen as a precursor for the next generation of European GNSS.

With respect to policy and regulatory aspects:

  • to enhance ESA’s industrial policy to allow faster decision making and leaner processes and processes tailored to activity/project type;
  • to establish priorities in space safety and security to enable future markets; and
  • to support European competitiveness in the field of access to space by engaging in a ‘fly-European’ policy for ESA missions.

IMM18 paves the way for these important decisions at Space19+.

The adopted resolutions will be made available on ESA’s website www.esa.int

  •  Resolution giving mandate to the Director-General to establish appropriate relations between the European Space Agency and the European Union
  • Resolution providing strategic guidelines for the preparation of the Agency programmes and activities

In the margins of the meeting, two signatures also took place.

  • A joint statement on the institutional exploitation of Ariane 6 and Vega-C, where the signatories express their full support of the European launcher industry and of the European launchers Ariane 6 and Vega-C. They recognize the benefit of aggregating their institutional demand for launch services to ensure a cost-effective, affordable, independent, reliable and autonomous access to space for Europe.
  • ESA and the Italian space agency ASI agreed to pursue cooperation concerning the future deployment of the novel Fly-Eye telescope to the site of Monte Mufara, Sicily. The high-performance Fly-Eye telescope will be used to systematically and regularly survey the sky for the purpose of detecting asteroids approaching Earth and representing a threat of collision with our planet.