ESA is calling for ideas that will shape the future of space transportation services – to space, in space and returning from space.
“The changing world we live in requires a space agency to anticipate. Now is the time for ESA to reach out to our citizens in the Member States and listen to their ideas and take them on board in Europe's greatest adventure,” commented Jan Wörner, ESA Director General.
This call for ideas is part of ESA’s drive to encourage open innovation from industry and individuals, from space and non-space sectors, to ensure that Europe can meet future challenges and seize new opportunities.
Proposals are welcome from space- and non-space-based companies, start-ups, universities and institutions, oriented towards private customer services and commercially viable ventures that would complement existing ESA space transportation programmes and activities.
Providing new, affordable transportation services will open up business opportunities, in turn benefiting the European public sector, stimulating employment and economic growth and competitiveness.
New services to space could include low-cost access to space for light satellites to low Earth orbit. New services in orbit and return from orbit could include transportation for exploration missions, Earth–Moon cargo supply services, space logistics or in-orbit servicing.
Submitted ideas can be at any level of technical maturity, but are expected to have a long-term vision of service provision and show a high potential for return on investment, with a financing scheme based on private investments.
Along with submitting their idea, responders to the call can take this opportunity to identify how ESA can help them develop their idea into a fully operational space transportation service.
Closing date for submissions is 14 September.
All eligible entries will receive feedback from an ESA panel of experts, with the most promising ideas being invited for further discussions on how to start developing their idea towards the reality of an operational and commercially successful system. In addition, up to three winning entries will win a trip to witness a launch - and experience European guaranteed access to space at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.
“Along with the new space era of increasing private stakes in space, ESA’s early understanding and involvement in emerging space transportation services in Europe will help us spur the environment that supports long-term success, growth and competitiveness,” commented Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA’s Director of Space Transportation.
This call for ideas is a first step toward identifying promising ideas within Europe for new, privately funded, customer-oriented, commercial space transportation services. This will help ESA prepare and implement the support that these ideas need to get off the ground.