ESA Approves 10.3 Billion Euro Budget; ISS Extended, ExoMars Funded

ESA logoMinisters from 22 ESA member countries approved a multi-year spending plan of €10.3 billion ($11 billion) for the European space agency, a reduction from the  €11 billion ($11.74 billion) that Director General Jan Dietrich Woerner had sought.

The budget includes an extension of the International Space Station to 2020 to 2024. ESA was the last of the international partners to approve the extension after the United States, Russia, Japan and Canada.

Officials said ESA would spend €961 million on ISS, including €807 million on operations and an additional €153 million for scientific utilization of the orbiting laboratory. ESA also will begin planning how it will use the space station for the 2020 to 2024 period.

The space agency will also go forward with construction of a second service module for NASA’s Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle.

ESA will also spend €440 million on the ExoMars rover program, which is set to launch in 2020, officials said. The space agency is working with Russia on the program.

The space agency provided the following breakdowns of its spending plan.

  • Maximise the integration of space into European society and economy: €2.5 billion
  • Foster a globally competitive European space sector:: €1.4 billion
  • Ensure European autonomy in accessing and using space in a safe and secure environment: €1.8 billion
  • Foundation: excellence in space science and technology: €4.6 billion
Program FamiliesTotal CM16
(M€ at 2016 e.c.)
Earth Observation1370 (up to 2025)
Telecom1280 (up to 2024)
Navigation69 (up to 2021)
Exploration1452 (up to 2021)
Prodex (support to Scientific Programme)172 (up to 2021)
Launchers1611 (up to 2023)
Space Safety95 (up to 2022)
Technology445 (up to 2022)
Science, Research, and Development – ESA Mandatory Activities3813 (up to 2021)
Total 10.3 B€

The figures in the table above include member states’ additional subscriptions to already-running optional programmes not tabled at the ministerial meeting.

Science, research and development tops the programmatic areas with €3.8 billion, followed by launchers (€1.6 billion), exploration (€1.45 billion), Earth observation (€1.37 billion) and telecommunications (€1.28 billion).  Funding for technology development would total €445 million.

SpaceNews reports the budget includes funding for new launch vehicle technology designed to allow the Europeans to compete with SpaceX:

With France as the prime mover, ESA also agreed to spend up to 100 million euros on a liquid oxygen/methane engine, called Prometheus, that ultimately could form the basis of a reusable first-stage for a future rocket.

The future Ariane 6 heavy-lift vehicle, and the future Vega-C-Plus rocket, both now in development and scheduled for first launches in 2020 and 2019, respectively, have design to cost as their goal but are expendable rockets.

Joel Barre, deputy director of the French space agency, CNES, said after the ministerial conference that France is paying the vast majority of the Prometheus program so as not to lose development time.

With the Ariane 6 rocket now fully funded, ESA governments can turn their attention to next-generation launcher technologies, including possible reusable segments.

SpaceNews also reports that the Italian-led Space Rider program is moving forward. The vehicle is a reusable orbital platform for microgravity experiments that would be launched aboard Vega rocket and land like a glider at an airport. It is based on the Intermediate Experimental Vehicle that was tested on a suborbital flight in 2015.

Plans for the Asteroid Impact Mission were set aside due to budget constraints. Study work on the program, which would be done in cooperation with NASA, could still continue, officials said.