This 290th session of ESA Council notably reviewed implementation of the decisions taken at the conference and support measures for space in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting also addressed the next steps for space exploration, particularly missions to the Moon and Mars, in an international context marked by the United States’ goal of returning to the Moon in 2024. ESA and NASA have adopted Memoranda of Understanding on the lunar Gateway, for which the ESPRIT module is a French priority, and on cooperation to supply flight elements for Mars Sample Return (MSR) missions.
From the start of the health crisis, ESA adopted exceptional measures to support Europe’s space sector and protect its space industry ecosystem. Tendering processes have been streamlined, notification of contracts expedited and payment terms shortened by more than half. Part-payments have also been facilitated and new payments anticipated.
After presiding over the meeting for the last time of his three-year term as ESA Council Chair, Jean-Yves Le Gall commented: “Despite the health crisis, ESA is making good progress implementing the decisions reached at the Space19+ Conference. I am pleased to say the agency has proved its agility in keeping Europe’s space industry competitive and will be pursuing its efforts towards that end in the months ahead.”