© ESA–Stephane Corvaja
© ESA–Stephane Corvaja

ESSC welcomes outcomes from ESA meeting

The European Space Sciences Committee (ESSC) has welcomed and evaluated the outcomes from the ESA Ministerial Council meeting that took place in Lucerne, Switzerland, on 1-2 December 2016. 

During the Ministerial Council, an overall budget of €10.3bn was agreed by member states of the European Space Agency for ESA programmes from 2017-2021.

In its statement, the ESSC expressed appreciation for the future vision and extensive commitment demonstrated in the overall ESA strategy, as outlined by ESA Director General Jan Wörner.

The new strategy aims to promote a united and collaborative effort across Europe which will foster European identity, energy and cohesion around the achievement of excellence in space sciences and technology. It also sets the scene for improved co-ordination between ESA and EU institutions.

ESSC also welcomed the ESA’s full subscription to the ExoMars programme which will allow for the continuing operation of the current Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) mission and the completion of the 2020 mission.

However, ESSC also said that the fifth phase of the Earth Observation Envelope Programme (EOEP) had been undersubscribed by 18%. The committee said it was concerned at the potential impact of this undersubscription on the coherence and stability of the EOEP.

ESSC Chair, Dr Athena Coustenis said:  “This is an acknowledgement of ESA member states’ interest and willingness to invest in space science, technology and infrastructure.

“I urge member states to recognise space sciences not as a cost but as a high-return investment with broad and exciting potential for European citizens and the economy.”