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ESA pursues a shared European vision for the future of space transportation

on 21 June 2022

As the European Space Agency prepares to begin operations of its next-generation Vega-C and Ariane 6 launch systems complemented by the reusable Space Rider orbital transportation system, work is underway to define the future of European space transportation capabilities for the coming decade and beyond.

ESA, together with partners, is elaborating a vision of the future of space transportation in Europe. The objective is to identify the activities required to unleash Europe’s technological potential as a global competitor, with an industrial landscape that fosters innovation and drives cost reduction.

Identifying critical technologies is a key feature of this approach.

Work has been underway since summer 2021 to identify features of a future European space transportation infrastructure. The next phase will be to define a technology roadmap that allows ESA, Europe’s national space agencies and institutions, and both established and start-up space companies to match the intense technical and commercial competition coming from the USA, China, Russia and India.

More than 100 representatives of Europe’s space sector are preparing to gather on 28 June in Palermo, Sicily for an intensive series of roundtable discussions. 

Following the Space Summit held in Toulouse in February 2022, another focus is to share the steps ESA is taking to prepare an informed decision on human exploration, including human space transportation capabilities in Europe, as these may become an additional dimension of Vision 2030+. At Palermo, discussions will grapple with the question of competition versus cooperation between institutional and private-sector actors spread across many European countries. 

ESA, its national partners and other European institutions which rely on space services may also need to redefine their roles. Going from being project leaders – the traditional role of a space agency – to project enablers means learning to work with private sector actors and their objectives, rather than hiring them to fulfil a specified mission. 

More details here

Image credit: ESA