ESA defines elements of future European space transportation solutions

Space transportation technologies are intrinsically complex, some needing long development cycles of up to a decade. For this reason, ESA is seeking early insights into long-term trends and potential evolutions in all application domains taking into account the needs of future programmes currently under preparation.

Outlook on future European space transportation

For this purpose, ESA has signed, within its New European Space Transportation Solutions (NESTS) initiative, study contracts each worth €500 000, with ArianeGroup, Avio and Rocket Factory Augsburg (a subsidiary of OHB SE).


These companies are tasked with carrying out research over the next few months. This will enable them to identify and recommend preliminary elements for future space transportation solutions to be exploited in the period 2030–50.


The studies will be completed before summer 2021 and will feed the preparation of proposals to be submitted for decision at the next Council Meeting at Ministerial level in 2022.


Europe’s reputation within the space transportation sector worldwide is based on its proven technological excellence and reliability. ESA develops the wide end-to-end vision of systems and services for space transport to, in and from space through anticipating and fostering needs and future opportunities decades in advance. This enables technology concepts to be prepared, offers a basis for further research and identifies technological building blocks.


“ESA, through its New European Space Transportation Solutions initiative, lays the foundations that enable us to prepare the future beyond Ariane 6 and Vega-C. These system concept studies will include services that prioritise the future needs of Europe’s space programmes but also allow us to address global market needs,” commented Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA Director of Space Transportation.

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