ESA Faces the Limits of Expansion, Growing Power of EU

polish_flag_eu_flagBy Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

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.

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DLR Chairman Says “Nein” on EU Takeover of ESA

DLR Chairman Johann Dietrich Wörner

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.

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Growing EU Power Threatens ESA’s Independence


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.

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Germany Revamps Space Policy

German space technology for the ISS – integration of the ATV 2 transporter at Astrium in Bremen. (Credit: Astrium GmbH)

This has been a busy year for Germany’s space agency, DLR. The German government has recently overhauled the nation’s space policy. DLR also recently signed an agreement with NASA to expand cooperation in radar mapping satellites, lunar research and other areas.

A press release describing the policy overhaul follows. Following that, there is a Q&A interview with DLR Chairman Johann-Dietrich Wörner in which he expands that was recently published on the space agency’s website.

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German Minister Proposes $2 Billion Moon Mission

kaguya_earth

Space official proposes billion-euro German moon mission
Deutsche Welle


A German government official has called for the country to launch an unmanned mission to the moon by 2015. The project would boost research, but currently there’s hardly the money for such high-flying ventures.

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Soyuz Effort Accelerates at Kourou; Russian Rocket Lifts German Spy Sat

The Russians Are Coming…to launch rockets from European base
AFP

“Today, though, the Guiana Space Centre (CSG) is girding for a new era when it will host Russian rockets and Russian engineers who just a short while ago were Europe’s space rivals.

“On Sunday, a freighter is due to dock in Cayenne bearing a first consignment of 150 containers of equipment to fit out a launch pad at CSG where, from the second half of 2009, the first “European” Soyuz is scheduled to blast into space.”

Russian Rocket Launches German Reconnaissance Satellite
Spaceflight Today

“The capstone of a fleet of German military satellites rocketed into space from Russia early Tuesday, completing a series of five launchings of spacecraft designed to scout locations around the world.

“The SAR-Lupe 5 satellite, a 1,700-pound craft (771-kg) outfitted with cloud-piercing and night-vision radar, launched aboard a Russian Kosmos 3M rocket at 0240 GMT Tuesday (10:40 p.m. EDT Monday), according to news reports.”