ESA has just concluded a successful two-day Council meeting at ministerial level in Naples, Italy. Ministers from ESA’s 20 member states and Canada today allocated €10 billion for ESA’s space activities and programmes for the years to come.
Apart from the 20 ESA Member States and Canada, several observers were also present at the Ministerial Council: Seven out of the 9 EU Member States that are not yet Member States of ESA (Estonia, Hungary, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, the Slovak Republic and Malta); the European Commission, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), the European Science Foundation, the European Defence Agency (EDA), the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), the European GNSS Agency (GSA) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Ministers focused the investments on fields with high growth potential or with a direct and immediate impact on the economy such as telecommunications and meteorology. They approved ESA’s level of resources for 2013-17, the proposals for the domain of Earth Observation and confirmed Europe’s commitment to the exploitation of the International Space Station (ISS).
Ministers secured investments for the detailed definition studies of the new launcher Ariane 6 and the continuation of the development of Ariane 5 ME adapted, with the goal to develop as many commonalities as possible between the two launchers. These activities are funded for two years with a decision on the continuation of both launchers to be taken in 2014.
Ministers gave the green light for Europe to provide the service module of NASA’s new Orion Multipurpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) as an in-kind contribution for ISS operations for 2017–20. This decision is strategically important for Europe as it will enable a co-operation between ESA and NASA on the future human space transportation system.
Ministers of ESA Member States approved a Political Declaration towards the European Space Agency that best serves Europe. In doing so, Ministers have initiated a process able to define how ESA can adapt its operations to take benefit of both, its intergovernmental framework and the EU competence in space. They have also stated their willingness to ensure coordination and coherence between the process initiated on the ESA side and the one initiated on the EU side. This Political Declaration was also supported by the Ministers from the 7 EU member States not yet members of ESA present at the meeting.
Ministers decided to hold the next Council at ministerial level in spring 2014.
The Editor (Spaceflight)