EU Space Budget Request Slashed

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The European Commission (EC) has slashed its space budget for 2021-27 from a proposed €16 billion ($18.8 billion) to €13.2 billion ($15.1 billion) due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic and the exit of Britain from the European Union (EU).

Under terms worked out last week by EU leaders, the space budget will devote €8 billion ($9.4 billion) on the Galileo satellite navigation system and €4.8 billion ($5.65 billion) to the Copernicus constellation of environmental satellites.


ESA Approves €2.55 billion in Contracts for 6 Copernicus Satellite Missions

Copernicus Sentinel-3 (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Following the financial commitment from ESA Member States at last November’s Council at Ministerial Level Space19+, ESA’s industrial policy committee has approved contracts totalling €2.55 billion [$2.87 million] to forward the development of six new Copernicus satellite missions, each mission comprising two satellites, a development and a recurrent unit. 

The overall package is co-funded by the EU and ESA Member States, and relies on future funding from the EU Multiannual financial framework.


ESA Council Approves Lunar Gateway, Mars Sample Return MOUs with NASA

PARIS (ESA PR) — The ESA Council met today in its 290th session and took some important decisions regarding the Executive’s senior management.

Several other decisions were taken in the meeting, in particular:

  • An adaptation of ESA’s decision-making to ensure efficient deliberation and ultimately, business continuity amid the current pandemic, particularly allowing remote participation and voting by Council members
  • The approval of a Memorandum of Understanding with NASA concerning Cooperation on the Civil Lunar Gateway, taking a step towards sending the first European to the Moon 
  • The approval of a Memorandum of Understanding with NASA concerning the Flight elements of the Mars Sample Return Campaign, consolidating the ambitious schedule towards the first-ever ‘round trip’ to Mars with return of pristine martian soil samples
  • In order to prepare the ESA/EU Council at ministerial Level (Space Council) to be held in November 2020, the ESA Council adopted a resolution to set-up a Council Working Group.

UK Government Lays Out Future Cooperation with EU in Space After Brexit

The European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT) is ESA’s facility in the United Kingdom. It is based at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire. (Credit: Harwell Campus)

With the United Kingdom (UK) now negotiating its withdrawal from the European Union (EU), the government has published a plan for how the two governments can continue to work together across a broad range of areas after Brexit.

While the UK can remain a full member of the European Space Agency without being a member of the EU, a number of disruptions could occur across the space and aerospace sector. Continued British participation in the EU’s Galileo satellite navigation system and the Copernicus Earth observation program are  key areas of concern.

Below are excerpts from the report covering possible cooperation in space and in the harmonization of standards in aerospace manufacturing. (Emphasis mine)

The Future Relationship Between the United Kingdom and the European Union

Presented to Parliament by the Prime Minister
by Command of Her Majesty
July 2018

Full Report

Selected Excerpts

2.4.6 Space

91. The UK and the EU are both reliant on access to space technologies for national resilience and military capabilities, and to reduce vulnerability to threats such as hacking and severe space weather.


Croatia Signs Cooperation Agreement with ESA

ZAGREB, Croatia, 19 February 2018 (ESA PR) — The Republic of Croatia signed a Cooperation Agreement with ESA on 19 February 2018. This agreement will allow Croatia and ESA to create the framework for a more intensive and concrete cooperation related to ESA programmes and activities.

Ms Blaženka Divjak, Croatian Minister of Science and Education, and Mr Frédéric Nordlund, Head of External Relations Department, on behalf of the ESA Director General, signed the agreement during an official ceremony in Zagreb, Croatia.


ESA Ministers Get Ready to Rumble in Lucerne

ESA logoPARIS (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.

What Will Brexit Do to UK’s Space Program?

UK_space_agencyIt looks like the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union (EU). If Parliament agrees. And the next Prime Minister — who won’t take office until October — respects the vote of  the people last week. And the UK doesn’t have another vote that reverses the decision.

Of course, not all of the United Kingdom might leave. Scotland is talking about having another vote on independence and applying to join the EU as a separate nation. And there is also a movement to united Northern Ireland with Ireland, which is an EU member and does not seem inclined to leave anytime soon.

The departure — which will take at least two years — will not affect the UK’s membership in the European Space Agency (ESA), which is separate from the EU. An independent Scotland would have to join both the EU and ESA. It’s not clear how complex those processes would be at this time.


Airbus Defence and Space to Lead EU Orbital Debris Project

Airbus_Defence_and_Space_logoTOULOUSE, France — Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second largest space company, will lead the project TeSeR (Technology for Self-Removal of Spacecraft) team to develop technology to reduce the risk of spacecraft colliding with debris in space.

Together with its ten European partners, the company will develop a prototype for a cost-efficient and highly reliable module to ensure that future spacecraft don’t present a collision risk once they reach the end of their nominal operational lifetimes or suffer an in-service failure. The module may also function as a removal back-up in the case of a loss of control over a spacecraft.


UK Wants Spaceport, More ISS Research

UK_space_agencyBy Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

The UK is looking to spend £25 to £50 million ($41.9 to $83.8 million) on a spaceport because it believes that “after the US, the UK has the best chance to be the second country in the world to enable spaceplane operations.”

That’s the word from the UK Department for Business Innovation & Skills (DBIS), which recently published “Creating the Future: A 2020 Vision for Science & Research: A Consultation on Proposals for Long-Term Capital Investment in Science & Research.”


EuroSpace: Launch Industry Overhaul, EU & ESA Relations, and Italian Space Corruption

Inaugural Vega flight. (Credits: ESA - S. Corvaja, 2012)
Inaugural Vega flight. (Credits: ESA – S. Corvaja, 2012)

Airbus Boss Calls for Industry Overhaul. Faced with competition from SpaceX, Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders says the European launch industry needs a fundamental overhaul to avoid becoming irrelevant.

“I believe we are at a defining moment for Europe’s future in space and Europe’s launcher industry,” Enders said. “We need a major reshuffling of the entire space launcher industry, and not just the industry part but what the government agencies do, in order to make that a profitable healthy business going forward.”

Enders called for more public-private partnerships.  NASA used this approach with SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corporation to develop new launchers and cargo ships that serve the International Space Station. Reuters

EU Defers Decision on Deepening ESA Ties: Heeding opposition from Germany and Britain, the European Union’s Competitiveness Council has apparently shelved a proposal that would have turned the European Space Agency into an EU agency. The question of how to deepen cooperation between the two organizations will be studied further.

A key concern involves preserving ESA’s juste retour policy under which nations receive the same proportion of contracts as their contribution to the agency. Germany and Britain want to preserve it; France believes it would benefit more from the EU’s policy of awarded contracts on best value regardless of national origin. Space News

Italian Space Agency Stabilizes: The new president of the Italian Space Agency (ASI),  Roberto Battiston, said he has helped stabilize the agency’s strategy and budget after his predecessor resigned amid corruption allegations. Battiston’s priorities include upgrades for the Italian-led Vega launch vehicle and ensuring that the ExoMars 2018 program is properly funded. Space News

Big US-Euro Divide on Commercial Spaceflight Regulations

The United States and Europe are taking very different approaches to regulating the emerging commercial human spaceflight industry, a divergence that could cause headaches for spacecraft operators forced to operate in very different regulatory environments.

The European Aviation Safety Administration (EASA) plans to certify winged vehicles that will fly into space under its authority to regulate aircraft.The FAA is taking a less strict approach of licensing vehicle launches without a costly certification process.


EU Space Conduct Code Faces Push Back From Commercial Sector

The commercial spaceflight industry is seeking input into a European Union code of conduct for space that the Obama Administration is considering adopting due to concerns that it could negatively impact the emerging sector.

In a presentation to the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) this week, Debra Facktor Lepore of the committee’s Space Transportation Operations Working Group said that a “broader global dialogue” involving government and industry is required before the United States and other nations adopt the EU’s Code of Conduct for Space Activities.