Europe looks beyond just science
The EU may be preparing to expand into human exploration. A “high-level meeting on space exploration” organised by the European Commission will take place this September or October, and the EC says it will be the start of a “process to obtain a common European political vision about the role of Europe in space exploration”.
Since the beginning of this century EU and ESA bilateral work has been increased through the development of the European space policy. And, over the past four years, a worldwide inter-agency effort to detail a roadmap for exploring Earth’s natural satellite and more distant sister planet has resulted in a global exploration strategy. Today this inter-agency effort has culminated in ideas for shipyards circling the Earth and space stations in low lunar orbit.
The European space policy’s white paper (an official EC document setting out what the policy should achieve) recommended an investigation into the potential feasibility, costs and opportunity for the EU to participate in the human exploration of the solar system. But by the time the policy was finally agreed in 2007 its focus was more down to earth. It focused on the flagship EU-ESA space-based projects: the satellite navigation system Galileo and Kopernikus, also known as Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES).
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