The space agency’s budget rose from 4.43 billion euros in 2015 to 5.25 billion euros ($4.8 billion to $5.69 billion), an increase of 817 million euros ($884.8 million).
The European Union is ESA’s biggest contributor, providing 1.32 billion euros ($1.435 billion) or 25.2 percent of the 2016 budget. ESA is overseeing the building and launching of satellites for the EU’s Galileo global positioning constellation and its Copernicus environmental monitoring program.
To date, ESA has launched 12 of 30 planned Galileo satellites into orbit. The space agency has launched the first two Sentinel satellites for the Copernicus program; Sentinel 3-A is set to launch aboard a Russian Rockot booster in mid-February.
Spending on ESA’s Earth observation programs in 2016 totals 1.6 billion euros ($1.7 billion) , or 30.5 percent of the total budget. The agency’s navigation program accounts for 609.5 million euros ($660 million), or 11.6 percent of the budget.
ESA’s top programmatic areas include:
- Earth observation — 1.6 billion euros ($1.7 billion)
- Launchers — 1 billion euros ($1.14 billion)
- Navigation — 609.5 million euros ($660 million)
- Scientific — 507.9 million euros ($550 million)
- Human spaceflight — 365.1 million euros ($395.4 million).
ESA’s launcher programs are getting a major boost this year with a boost of 443.5 million euros ($480.3 million) as the agency ramps up work on the new Ariane 6 and upgraded Vega launcher.
Ariane 6 will replace Ariane 5 now in use. Vega-C will have a greater lifting capacity than the current version of the rocket. The program will also develop technologies for use on Ariane 6.
After the EU, ESA’s top five contributors for 2016 are:
- Germany — 872.6 million euros ($945 million)
- France — 844.5 million euros ($914 million)
- Italy — $512 million euros ($554.5 million)
- United Kingdom — 324.8 million euros ($350.9 million)
- Belgium — 188.9 million euros ($204.5 million).
France and Italy have each boosted their contributions to the ESA budget because of their interest in Ariane 6 and Vega-C, respectively.
The space agency has two categories of programs — mandatory and optional. The mandatory programs include basic activities such as research and development, technical investments, information system, and studies of future projects.
ESA’s 22 member states contribute to mandatory programs as a percentage of its gross domestic product. The space agency also has cooperation agreements with seven other European states and Canada.
Contributions to optional programs are at the discretion of individual member states. Optional programs include: human spaceflight, Earth observation, telecommunications, satellite navigation, space transportation and microgravity research.