Wednesday 27 and Thursday 28 November, the ESA Council meeting at ministerial level (Space19+), co-chaired by Frédérique Vidal, France’s Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation, and Manuel Heitor, Portugal’s Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, concluded with a huge success for Europe’s space programme. Europe is thus strongly consolidating its position as the world’s second space power by firming up its ambitious policies in the areas of access to space, solar system exploration and sustaining the competitiveness of its industry.
ESA is an intergovernmental organization of 22 member states. In Seville, the member states committed over €14 billion for new programmes over three to five years, which is an absolute record for such a conference.
For access to space, the budget envelope is intended to make Ariane 6 and Vega C more competitive, develop future technology building blocks with the Prometheus engine and fund refurbishment of the Guiana Space Centre (CSG). The key challenge for Europe of maintaining independent access to space has been fully achieved.
For space exploration, the budget envelope will fund activities for the International Space Station, the Moon and Mars in an international context marked by the United States’ announcement that it intends to land a crew on the lunar surface in 2024. France’s priorities, aligned with those of Europe and in accordance with the Franco-German agreement signed on 16 October, will be fully implemented.
Industrial competitiveness will be sustained chiefly through Earth-observation programmes, with funding for the future space component of Copernicus and remote-sensing satellites for the Future Earth Observation programme, and through the ARTES programme to lay the foundations for future satellite telecommunications.
ESA’s member states also allocated funds for safety and security programmes and for support for technology and the development of scientific experiments.
At the end of the conference, Jean-Yves Le Gall, CNES President and Chair of the ESA Council, commented: “The decisions made in Seville reflect the constructive mindset of each of ESA’s member states and are shaping a European space programme that will benefit all our fellow citizens in many areas of everyday life. It’s a huge success, which will also enable Europe’s space industry to remain particularly competitive. In Seville, we’ve made a giant leap for Europe!”