Europe said to aim for a lunar mission – POLITICO
BRUSSELS — The European Space Agency should quickly ramp up its human and robotic exploration if it is to keep pace with global rivals, a panel of experts said on Thursday, urging capitals to focus on a lunar mission.
The 12-person independent advisory group includes former ministers, a cartoonist and CEOs of leading consultancies, all led by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Danish prime minister and NATO secretary general.
“A bold mission would galvanize and revolutionize the entire European economy, well beyond the space sector, and inspire a generation of Europeans to build the future,” says their report released on Thursday.
The group was tasked last summer with defining Europe’s strategic priorities for space, for which boosting astronaut launch capability and new uncrewed missions should be a key priority, according to the report. .
Of more than 100 lunar missions announced by agencies and companies for the years up to 2030, Europe is conducting just two, according to the report. However, European countries are building hardware for NASA’s Artemis mission to bring humans back to the lunar surface this decade and ESA is scrambling to secure a seat for one of its astronauts in a future landing.
Despite increasing space program spending to 16.9 billion euros at their recent summit in Paris, ESA space ministers did not agree to pursue a manned spaceflight program, reporting rather this call until their next ministerial summit in 2025.
“The amount of investment needed to be competitive is within reach in the context of Europe’s economic output, especially as the average GDP share of space investment in Europe is only one-fifth that of United States and only one-fifteenth of NASA’s exploration budget,” the advisory report states.
ESA said it would assess the recommendations ahead of its next mini-summit in Seville, scheduled for November.