“Europe’s ambitions in space have received another boost today and we applaud ESA’s decisions to furtjer develop Europe in space. European citizens will benefit greatly from our new innovative solutions,” said Nicolas Chamussy, Head of Space Systems, on decisions by ministers from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) 22 member states. At their meeting on 1-2 December in Lucerne, Switzerland, the ESA Ministerial Council committed to invest a total of € 10.3 billion in space activities for the next couple of years to ensure that Europe remains a strong, independent and competitive player in the space sector. Airbus shares ESA’s objectives based on the vision of a ‘United Space in Europe’.
Following successes and agreements on the Ariane 6 programme, Airbus Defence and Space is particularly pleased by the ESA space ministers’ commitment to manned space activities, notably their green light for ESA to start working on a second European Service Module for the Orion exploration programme. This European contribution will provide the future US-manned capsules Orion with power and propulsion. Airbus is already prime contractor of the first European Service Module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft. The first un-crewed mission, Exploration Mission-1, will be launched in 2018, followed by the first crewed mission to be launched in 2021.
Airbus is also encouraged by ESA’s commitment to pursue a variety of science missions like the ExoMars programme with Russia, which includes a European-built rover to explore the surface of Mars. With these ESA Ministerial Council commitments, Airbus Defence and Space can continue to develop and launch missions like JUICE to Jupiter, BepiColombo to Mercury, Solar Orbiter and CHEOPS to explore exoplanets along with the NASA-led James Webb Space Telescope that will replace Hubble in 2018.
ESA’s decision to keep investing in Telecommunication technologies with more than a billion-euro series of developments in partnership with European industry for multiple satellite and ground station partnerships will benefit citizens on a daily basis.
Equally the robust commitment to fund ESA’s Earth Observation Envelope Programme which will develop, launch and operate several missions in the coming years like BioMass and FLEX, and already prepare EU’s Copernicus second generation especially for measuring the dangerous greenhouse gas CO2. All these missions will provide invaluable data for monitoring climate change and help future policy decisions within Europe.