Some time ago, in this blog, I wrote about a heated debate concerning a ‘cold potato’; back then, I discussed the relationship between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Union (EU). Germany does not support the current efforts to integrate ESA into the EU. We consider an intergovernmental European Space Agency to be necessary for a sustainable way of working. Time has passed, and the ‘cold potato’ has become a ‘dead horse’. It has been clear for some time that this integration is not only illogical, but also unworkable.
The European Union outlined elements of its proposed new space policy for the continent recently in a press release. The document describes a series of actions the Union feels are required to allow Europe to thrive in an increasingly competitive global market where it is significantly outspent by the United States.
The document, which is reproduced below, is quite dry, but I did spot one proposed action that appears to be the equivalent of throwing gasoline on the smouldering embers of a fire that everyone involved spent about a year putting out.
Establish and implement a real European launcher policy
EU autonomy in strategic sectors such as launch services is of fundamental importance. A real European launcher policy must be established by the institutional actors – as is the case in the other space-faring nations – to avoid short term or case by case decision taking.
At the European Space Agency (ESA) ministerial meeting on Nov. 20-21 in Naples, there was a new flag flying outside. The red-and-white flag of Poland, which had joined space agency the day before, was raised among those of ESA’s other 19 member states.
Poland became the third — and wealthiest — former Eastern Bloc nation to join ESA behind the Czech Republic and Romania. The nation’s ascendance brought the number of full ESA member states to 20 from the original 10 countries that created the space agency in 1975. Canada is an associate member.
Ten other European nations, nine of which have cooperative agreements with ESA, attended the quadrennial ministerial meeting as observers with hopes of eventually joining the space agency as full members. Behind them, there is another group of 10 countries — most of which are still emerging from the fall of communism two decades ago — that could one day join ESA.
In a declaration adopted at their November meeting, ESA’s ministers tasked Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain with overseeing as process designed to evolve the space agency and to improve its cooperation with the European Union (EU).
The move comes in response to an effort by the European Commission to forge closer links between the two independent organizations, which have overlapping responsible for space policy and activities on the continent. These efforts could eventually end up with ESA coming under the control of the union sometime during the next decade.
DLR Chairman Johann-Dietrich Wörner has dismissed the idea that European Space Agency (ESA) needs to be brought under the wing of the European Union (EU) in order to improve cooperation between the two organizations.
The European Commission, the EU’s top body, has recommended several options that would bring the independent space agency under the control of the union.
In the following excerpt from his blog, Wörner rejects the idea, saying that the coordination problems between ESA and the EU can be handled without making such major changes, and that the entire debate is a distraction from far more important issues.
It’s a common enough occurrence in Hollywood : a writer completes a draft of a script and, after reading and digesting the brilliant scribe’s latest masterpiece, the producer/director/whatever ladles out immense praise. After spending the requisite amount of time building up the writer’s fragile ego so it ascends to the Olympian heights that is an Academy stage, the reviewer lays the hammer down.
“But, I do have a few notes….”
In other words, heed my pearls of wisdom and get started on the rewrite. You’ve got a lot of work to do.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has been getting very similar notes from its bigger, more powerful cousin, the European Union (EU). The union loves — just loves — ESA’s work, great stuff. However, ESA needs to do better — and it might be able to do so by coming under the control of the EU.
ESA’s throwing a party next month, and everybody — and I mean EVERYBODY — is invited.
Well, maybe not a party per se. (Although there probably will be a few during the evening.) But, the next ESA Ministerial Council meeting in Caserta, Italy on November 20-21 will be the biggest one yet, featuring anyone in Europe with any interest in space whether they’ve joined the agency or not. And it will be crucial meet for Europe’s future in space.
Ten European Union nations that are not members of the European Space Agency have been invited to sit in on deliberations of the ESA governing Council and its subordinate bodies, the space agency announced in a press release. The move is a sign of deepening ties between the EU and the independently-run space agency.
The ESA Council has also authorized “the ESA Director General to conduct negotiations with Poland for that country to accede to the ESA Convention by March 2012 and thus become the 20th Member State of ESA,” the press release added.
The European Commission expect to publish the forthcoming Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) Space Call on, or before, 20 July 2011 with an indicative budget of 84M€, and an anticipated deadline for proposals of 23 November 2011.
Indications are that the overall FP7 Space 2012 Work programme will have a budget in the region of 260M€, the main elements of which are expected to be:
4M€ for the development of GMES applications
28M€ for strengthening Space Foundations
12M€ for cross-cutting activities
180M€ for other activities not part of the Call for proposals, which include funds to be transferred to the European Space Agency (ESA) for the development and implementation of the GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Safety) space component and purchase of space data.
The European Union is increasingly involving itself in space policy and programs, areas that it has largely left to the European Space Agency and various national space agencies.
The union’s space initiatives include: building the Galileo satellite navigation system; developing an integrated space policy; pursuing a space industrial policy in cooperation with ESA and member states; increasing Europe’s independence in space; and deepening cooperation with nations outside of Europe, in particular China.
Conference: The Regulation of Suborbital Flights in the European Context Thursday 16 September 2010
International Institute of Air & Space Law University of Leiden Netherlands
The symposium, which be held on 16 September 2010 in Leiden,Â will focus on the legal issues arising from this new era of human spaceflight by analyzing the perspectives of various stakeholders, and will attempt to formulate some recommendations for its efficient and adequate regulation.
A conference on â€˜The Ambitions of Europe in Spaceâ€™ on 15 and 16 October brought together members of the European Parliament, Council, European Commission, agencies, industry, research entities, operators, financing institutions as well as interested people from the media and public.
Ministers from the 29 European Space Agency and European Union Member States will meet in Prague on 23 October for the 1st EU-ESA International Conference on Human Space Exploration, to prepare a roadmap leading to the definition of a common vision and strategic planning for space exploration.
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”.