Russians, Europeans Agree to Study Large Orbital Platforms, Re-entry Tech

On March 17, about 180 representatives of the European and Russian space programs met in Moscow for a seminar on joint development projects. A statement issued the next day by Roskosmos, ESA and the European Commission laid out planned initiatives for the years ahead.

The communique mentions that Europe and Russia studied developing a Soyuz replacement together but eventually decided to go their own ways:

As a consequence, it is considering to extend the scope of the WG [Working Group] activities to include the joint preliminary definition of a post-ISS manned space flight scenarios, supporting human exploration missions and other applications. This will include, for example, the development of in-orbit large structures and their assembly techniques and development of robotic means, as well as atmospheric re-entry technologies and other issues as identified during the work.

Moreover in the shorter term the WG activities could cover ISS complementary developments and research capabilities, joint scientific utilization of ISS and the medical aspects of crew training and support for long duration missions. On this basis it is proposed to rename the WG as “Human Spaceflight Programme” with the update mandate as described above.

Other areas of joint cooperation include:

Earth Observation: Implement an ESA-Roscosmos data exchange arrangement in support of joint research projects in the areas of agriculture, forestry, earthquake precursors and arctic regions. Encourage European and Russian research entities to participate in the upcoming FP7 Space call in view of improving the base for implementing relevant projects. Exchange information on in-situ infrastructure relevant to Earth Observation services.

Satellite Navigation: Formal steps will be taken for the negotiations of the overarching GNSS (Galileo-EGNOS/GLONASS-SDCM) cooperation agreement. The EU and Russia will exchange information related to their plans for developing regional augmentation systems. In the shorter term, further progress is expected from the experts of the Technical Working Group as regards the central issues of compatibility and interoperability of GALILEO and GLONASS. In addition, for Search and Rescue, both sides will cooperate jointly to define performance validation procedures and ground segment operations.

Satellite Communications: Further investigate the scope of cooperation in satellite communications with space agencies and other commercial and institutional actors for the development of joint applications and services. Topics to be assessed include technology, services, improved broadband access, improved mobility for broadband services, future air traffic communications via satellites, and interoperability of Russian and European Data Relay Satellites.

Fundamental Space Science: Further implement the ESA – Roscosmos Exomars – Phobos Grunt Agreement, signed at the last Steering Board meeting in June 2008. Continue the activity concerning the provision of MGNS for “BebiColombo” mission. Proceed the dialogue between Russian and European scientists to participate in the ESA Cosmic Vision programme 2015-2025. Pursue discussions on possible cooperation on one of the proposed missions under this programme.

Applied Space Science and Technology: Based on the successful definition and joint agreement by the Working Group on 10 Pilot Cases for cooperation in applied space technology for implementation from 2009 onwards, as well as on 3 topics for joint workshops in the coming period, facilitate and support the implementation work between the relevant Industries, Institutes and Research Organisations.

Launch Systems: Major milestones having been achieved during 2008 in the implementation of the cooperation between the parties for the exploitation of the Soyuz launcher from Europe`s Spaceport, in particular following the arrival of the Russian equipment to French Guiana in July 2008, the objective is now to proceed in line with planning in order to carry out the first launch before end 2009.