PARIS (ESA PR) — The Ministers in charge of space within the 22 ESA Member States and Canada gather typically every three years to set the Agency’s strategy and policies. During these ESA Council meetings at Ministerial Level, decisions are taken on the main direction for the coming years and on the additional budget for the future. Ministers agree to start new programmes or eventually to bring them to an end. This time, the ‘space ministers’ will meet on 1–2 December in Lucerne, Switzerland.
The meeting this year will define ESA’ objectives based on the vision of a United Space in Europe in the era of Space 4.0.
United Space in Europe
European spirit, identity and cohesion are the overarching aspects for Europe to achieve the best of outcomes for its states and citizens in space and for a globally successful European space sector.
ESA’s Ministerial Council takes place at a time when common goals for space have been defined at European level: ESA and the EU issued a joint statement on 26 October on a “Shared Vision and Goals for the Future of Europe in Space”, as part of a reinforced cooperation for the future.
ESA and EC define specific objectives under this common understanding. EC published its part on 26 October; ESA will decide its part in its role as the European Space Agency during the Ministerial Council, based on the ESA Convention and the anticipated shift of paradigms in space: Space 4.0.
United Space in Europe describes the intensive cooperation of different European entities for the sake of a strengthening of Europe. With this strengthened European cooperation in space, this Ministerial Council will further ESA’s breadth and strength of action to cover its mandate as laid out in the ESA Convention through enhanced partnership with its Member States, with other institutional actors and with space actors worldwide.
The conference takes place in the advent of the Space 4.0 era, a time when space is evolving from being the preserve of the governments of a few spacefaring nations to a situation in which there is the increased number of diverse space actors around the world, including the emergence of private companies, participation with academia, industry and citizens, digitalisation and global interaction.
Space 4.0 represents the evolution of the space sector into a new era, characterised by a new playing field. This era is unfolding through interaction between governments, private sector, society and politics. Space 4.0 is analogous to, and is intertwined with, Industry 4.0, which is considered as the unfolding fourth industrial revolution of manufacturing and services.
To meet the challenges and to proactively develop the different aspects of Space 4.0, the European space sector can become globally competitive only by fully integrating into European society and economy. This requires a sustainable space sector closely connected with the fabric of society and economy. For this to happen, space must be safe, secure and easily and readily accessible, and built on a foundation of excellence in science and technology – broadly and continuously over time.
ESA will table proposals at the meeting to meet the common European goals for space in this exciting and challenging new era.
The proposed global investment to be decided at the meeting amounts to about €11 billion.
The goals defined in the joint ESA–EC statement are taken into account by concrete proposals for the Ministerial Council:
Goal: maximise the integration of space into European society and economy
Target amount: €2.5 billion
Concerted efforts ultimately leading to the full integration of space into European society and economy are about addressing and contributing to resolving societal challenges, about the link between the space sector and other sectors, and about closing the gaps between space and users through data and services, and between space and citizens by informing, inspiring and interacting.
ESA will continue to address societal challenges thus also contributing to global Sustainable Development Goals associated with food, climate change and water reserves by:
- continuing to develop missions – namely Biomass, FLEX, Earth Explorer-9 & 10 and an additional ‘opportunity’ mission – within the Earth Observation Envelope Programme in its fifth period (EOEP-5), and in addition to Altius (an Earth Watch element of the programme), specifically investigating stratospheric ozone profiles;
- improving data preservation and accessibility of all ESA science heritage data assets through the Long-Term Data Preservation programme (as part of the mandatory activities), and data exploitation schemes by extending and improving GMECV+ Essential Climate Variables (Earth Watch) to further support climate science and monitoring for policy-making;
- investing in the ISS, including safe and efficient operation of Europe’s contributions, the first mission of the European Service Module for the NASA Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, fulfilling Europe’s commitments until 2020 under current barter arrangements with NASA, and the manufacture of the second flight model as a first contribution to a post-2020 barter;
- guaranteeing international cooperation in Earth observation and coordinated access to non-ESA Earth observation missions for Europe for, for example, disaster management and migration through Earthnet (as part of the mandatory activities).
With these programmes and activities ESA will continue to push the frontiers of knowledge and advance science, technology and applications. Through the Education Programme, this knowledge will be passed on to younger and future generations, guaranteeing continuity. Furthermore, such knowledge is also important for developing business opportunities, through, for example, applications, thus leading to economic growth. ESA will foster this by:
- enabling a timely and efficient access to space, in order to demonstrate and validate innovative technologies, systems, services and applications through Pioneer, which aims at supporting the emergence of commercial entities interested in becoming one-stop-shop service providers for proof of concept missions;
- promoting innovative services through existing and new user communities Integrated Application Promotion (IAP, in ESA’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems – ARTES – programme) for the further integration of the individual areas into European society and economy (Earth observation, navigation and telecommunications), and strengthening the links among the areas and actors.
Goal: foster a globally competitive European space sector
Target amount: €1.5 billion
Concerted measures that foster the European space sector into becoming wholly competitive in the global market are also about enabling and implementing new cooperation methods between traditional, new and emerging actors, about new working methods in line with Industry 4.0 and about pushing for a self-sustaining and commercially competitive European space industrial base open and easily accessible to other European sectors, which it helps to make profitable.
This calls for broadening the base of industrial actors through the emergence of new players, including small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), calls for implementing public–private partnerships (PPPs) in areas in which these have to date seen only public financing, calls for clearer and stronger connections between the space and non-space sectors to allow for spin-ins and –offs, and for complementary activities.
ESA intends to address all of the above by:
- supporting the growth and networking of SMEs, through the SME Initiative, which helps to widen the base of actors and increase the dynamic nature of the space field;
- extending PPPs to the Earth observation area through InCubed (Earth Watch) to stimulate Europe’s Earth observation industry to develop innovative technologies and services for commercialisation in the new Space 4.0 environment;
- stimulating the first European commercial partnership(s) in space exploration, drawing on the group of innovative ideas already proposed by industry through commercial partnerships within the European Exploration Envelope Programme (E3P);
- coordinating space technology planning of ESA, EU and Member States with industry and other stakeholders through the establishment of technology roadmaps through technology harmonisation;
- providing support to the establishment and maintenance of standards for the space sector through standardisation;
- preparing future initiatives and developing competitive technologies and products for telecommunication and thus directly supporting industry competitiveness through the Future Preparation and Core Competitiveness Elements;
- providing extended geographical coverage and service enhancement of the European Data Relay Satellite System (EDRS), currently under development and opening new market opportunities for optical communication technologies, through the continuation of the EDRS-GlobeNet programme;
- developing optical communication technologies to address future markets with ScyLight, which will also address quantum cryptography and other new applications;
- supplying a validated satellite-based communication solution for the European Air Traffic Management System, through Iris;
- supporting and enabling the development, qualification and demonstration in orbit of next-generation platform lines, allowing European prime satellite integrators already established in the
3–6 tonne launch mass segment to address future satellite operators’ needs through Neosat;
- supporting the development, launch and validation in orbit of a satellite system based on an innovative geostationary platform in the 3 tonne launch mass range, using all-electric propulsion for transfer to geostationary orbit and for stationkeeping, through Electra;
- supporting the design and development of the innovative elements that will contribute to an optimised delivery of future mobile satellite communication services, through ICE, Inmarsat Communications Evolution project;
- supporting the development, launch and validation in orbit of an innovative Ka- and V-band satellite system, through Lynxsat;
- supporting European satellite ground segment industry to develop, validate and roll out innovative ground segment solutions, through Aidan;
- supporting the development of streamlined microsatellites towards reduced recurring cost for serial production by supporting space-based tracking of seafaring vessels beyond coastal areas that are equipped with AIS (Automatic Identification System) tracking devices through SAT-AIS missions and other applications and by addressing other opportunities offered by small LEO constellations high-performance ship detection capabilities;
- facilitating the transfer of technologies and knowhow developed at ESA into diverse non-space fields (spin-off) and supporting the local Business Incubator Centres in Member States, through the Technology Transfer and Incubation Programme (TTP);
- preparing Europe for independent routine access and return from LEO with a reusable system able to transport payloads for several different applications through Space Rider (based on Vega C), and activities involving Dream Chaser (based on Ariane 64);
- providing low-cost launch services for light and small satellites based on Ariane 6 and Vega with the Light satellite, Low-cost Launch (LLL) initiative.
Goal: ensure European autonomy in accessing and using space in a safe and secure environment
Target amount: €2.5 billion
Europe can make the most of space by recognising that it is a critical infrastructure, the access to, and use and protection of which are fundamental for both its success and that of critical infrastructure that depend upon space assets and services.
In addition to developing the family of launchers Ariane 62/64 and Vega C, ESA will continue to ensure European autonomy in accessing space by:
- adopting the CSG Resolution for the period 2017–21 which guarantees a fully operational space centre for all European launchers;
- continuing the Launchers Exploitation Accompaniment Programme (LEAP) and extending by the period 2017–19 to cover costs linked to the support to the exploitation of Ariane 5 and Vega.
ESA will invest in a safe and secure space environment by:
- investing in Space Traffic Management consisting of:
- Space Situational Awareness activities aimed at contributing to a European capability to monitor the space environment for hazards, both natural and man-made that could affect assets in orbit or populations and infrastructure on ground. Activities include the establishment of a network of Near-Earth Object (NEO) survey telescopes, the deployment of new applications in the NEO Coordination Centre as well as technology developments and networking of Space Surveillance and Tracking ground- and space-based assets;
- augmenting capabilities for monitoring of space weather with the development of a Space Weather mission to a Lagrange point (L1 or L5), including pre-development activities;
- preparing the first steps towards protection against near-Earth objects by providing a companion observatory and microlander mission to the NASA DART impactor, which will strike the small Moon orbiting the Didymos binary asteroid with ESA’s Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM) mission;
- preparing the technologies for the removal of debris through the preparatory activities for e.Deorbit/Tug;
- continuing to invest efforts in other debris mitigation and remediation measures;
- continuing to invest and strengthening the European Space Security and Education Centre (ESEC/Name not finally confirmed)] in Redu, Belgium;
- investing in the next generation of satellite navigation/positioning navigation timing innovative propositions in partnership with Member States and industry along the entire satellite navigation value chain, through the Navigation Innovation and Support (NAVISP) programme;
- developing innovative and secure satellite telecommunication systems and services through the Govsatcom Precursor programme;
- providing support to industry for European non-dependence on critical technologies by establishing an inventory of technologies considered critical and not available in Europe through the European Component Initiative;
- maintaining mission operations infrastructures.
Foundation: excellence in space science and technology
Target amount: €4.5 billion
Excellent science and technology are a prerequisite for success. ESA intends to guarantee that this prerequisite is fulfilled, now and in the future, by:
- preparing Europe for the future with preparation and discovery projects, early ‘blue sky’ research, technical, scientific and strategic studies and technology development activities in direct support of ESA missions or projects, through the Preparation, Discovery and Technology Development programme;
- continuing to develop a variety of science mission types and sizes to ensure a long-term perspective for the scientific community to respond to the evolving challenges of science and the rise of new scientific ideas, to enhance humanity’s knowledge, and to implement global cooperation for global stability, through the scientific programme, that includes the following upcoming missions:
- the launch readiness of Cheops to study exoplanet transits in 2017/2018 (to be launched as a passenger on a TBD primary payload);
- the launch of BepiColombo to Mercury in 2018, by Ariane 5;
- the launch of the NASA-led JWST mission in 2018, by Ariane 5;
- the launch of Solar Orbiter in 2018 to study the Sun and the heliospere, by a NASA-provided Atlas 5;
- the launch of Euclid in 2020, by a Soyuz from CSG, for understanding the nature of “dark energy”.
- operating the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter in orbit around Mars since October 2016, as well as the completion and preparation for the launch of the ExoMars 2020 mission;
- providing ESA exploration products for landing and resources investigation for the Russian-led Luna-Resource Lander
(Luna-27) mission and the building-up of a broad European lunar exploration user community, to exploit the engineering/scientific data and the other benefits generated during the project;
- developing exploration technologies and exploration concepts in preparation for new projects in human and robotic exploration for decision at the 2019 ESA Council meeting at Ministerial level through ExPeRT (Exploration Preparation, Research and Technology);
- undertaking world-class science in space and including multiple research results from the ISS, non-ISS space platforms and space environment analogues, to advance Europe’s knowledge base, support its economy and help prepare future space exploration through SciSpacE;
- preparing meaningful European contributions to human exploration activities beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO) building on the ISS programme through Human Exploration beyond LEO;
- acquiring demonstrated technical capabilities and associated organisation for on-demand quick implementation on operational or future launchers, in view of launch service competitiveness, through the Future Launchers Preparatory Programme New Economic Opportunities and through the Vega E (evolution) preparatory activities, including in particular system and stage studies;
- developing technologies with the specific aims of reducing time to market and increased in-orbit demonstration and validation through a renewed General Support Technology Programme (GSTP);
- PRODEX (PROgramme de Développement d’Expériences scientifiques) will continue to offer institutions and industry the chance to work on ESA experiments.
- developing and maintaining core technical expertise, including technical assessments, investments and maintenance of engineering laboratories and test facilities.
Currently proposed financial envelope per programme families
The figures provided in the table below are indicative and provide a feel for the breadth of activities possible in and from space to fulfil the goals of Europe in space.
By coming together on 1–2 December in Lucerne, Ministers will, together with the ESA Executive, discuss and finally decide what the focus for the coming years will be. This trade-off will consider the affordability of Member States and will lead to the final selection of those activities that can best serve a united Europe to master today’s challenges and face those ahead.