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  • Meeting of the second and last day of the Ministerial Council of the European Space Agency (ESA), in Seville.

    Meeting of the second and last day of the Ministerial Council of the European Space Agency (ESA), in Seville. | Photo: EFE

Published 28 November 2019
Opinion

The member countries of the European Space Agency approve a record budget of 14.4 billion euros for five years.

Soon enough, space "will change our daily lives much faster than we can imagine," Jorge Potti, General Director of Space of the GMV company, predicted adding that among other things, satellite navigation will make possible the expansion of autonomous vehicles with sensors guided from outer space.

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In Sevilla the ministers responsible for space activities in European countries have negotiated during the last days the budgets of the European Space Agency (ESA) for the coming years: 14.4 billion euros for the next five years (12,500 only for the next three).

Pedro Duque, Spanish Minister of Science, Innovation and Universities highlighted that this a historical record for the organization and a success in which his country has played a great role.

The increase of Spanish investments in the organization will allow to go from being a country that collaborates in the great space missions “to lead some of them”. This is the case of Cheops, a satellite that will study extrasolar planets. In addition, Spain has contributed 80 million to the human and robotic exploration program, a section in which it had very little presence.

His French homologue, Frédérique Vidal, and co-chair of the meeting, emphasized four major objectives that want to meet the agreed investment: a first pillar and perhaps the most colorful is the human and robotic exploration of space, a program which a quarter of its money will be dedicated to collaborating with the U.S. to return to the Moon in the next decade

In addition to collaborate in the construction of the capsules that will take astronauts and the rockets that will propel them, in Seville European support for an international project to create an orbital station around the Moon has been approved as of 2028.

The station, dubbed Deep Space Gateway (portal to deep space) will serve as a base for manned and unmanned missions to the lunar surface. Within the long-term projects for the new era of manned space exploration, the Moon will serve as a training ground for the main objective: bringing humans to Mars for the first time.

Another essential point was Europe's sovereign and autonomous access to space. It will be financed with 2,238 million to mainly boost the development of two rockets, Ariane 6 and Vega C, with which the countries of the continent can place their satellites in orbit without relying on other powers.

The last major topic was that with the significant increase in funding to reach 1,671 million euros, it will make possible to advance and bring together the launch of two great missions that can change our vision of the cosmos.

At a time when international cooperation does not seem to go through its best moment, space, as it was in the past, seems like a meeting place. In addition to the agreements between the US and Europe, in Sevilla it was confirmed that the United Kingdom still wants to be close to the continent, despite Brexit.

Spain, meanwhile, has increased its contribution by 5.9%, and reaches 852 million. The three largest investors in ESA are Germany, with 3,294 million and an increase of 22.9%, France, with 2,664 million and an increase of 18.5%, and Italy, with 2,282 million and 15.9% increase.

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