ESA pursues a shared European vision for the future of space transportation
As the European Space Agency prepares to commission its next-generation Vega-C and Ariane 6 launch systems, complete with the Space Rider reusable orbital transport system, work is underway to define future capabilities. European space transport companies for the next decade and beyond. .
ESA, together with partners, is developing a vision for the future of space transportation in Europe. The aim is to identify the activities needed to unlock Europe’s technological potential as a global competitor, with an industrial landscape that promotes innovation and cost reduction.
Identifying critical technologies is a key part of this approach.
Work has been underway since the summer of 2021 to identify the characteristics of a future European space transport infrastructure. The next phase will be to define a technology roadmap that will enable ESA, European national space agencies and institutions, as well as established and start-up space companies, to face the intense technical and commercial competition from from the United States, China, Russia and India.
More than 100 representatives of the European space sector are preparing to meet on June 28 in Palermo, Sicily, for an intensive series of roundtables.
Giorgio Tumino, ESA’s Chief Technical Advisor for Space Transportation, is leading the development of this vision and organizing the gathering in Palermo, entitled “Shared Vision for the Future of Space Transportation in Europe”.
Critically, he says, the concepts of a “Vision 2030+” need to be discussed independently of the needs and constraints of existing programmatic frameworks. “We need to think about the future without being held back by the parameters of today,” he says.
It is encouraging, he adds, that the work carried out so far has been supported by technical experts from institutions in ESA Member States: “There are elements for a vision of the future of the point from a technical and technological point of view”.
One of the main focuses of the Palermo meeting is to share ESA’s Vision 2030+ with industry and to consolidate a technology development strategy, as it is important to define coordinated actions by institutions and companies Europeans. 2030, he notes, is coming soon – it’s “the next stage, not the stage after the next”.
Following the Space Summit held in Toulouse in February 2022, another objective is to share the measures taken by ESA to prepare an informed decision on human exploration, including human space transport capabilities in Europe, as these could become an additional dimension of Vision 2030+. In Palermo, the discussions will focus on the question of competition versus cooperation between institutional and private players spread over many European countries.
ESA, its national partners and other European institutions that depend on space services may also have to redefine their roles. Moving from project manager – the traditional role of a space agency – to project facilitator means learning to work with private sector actors and their objectives, rather than hiring them to fulfill a specific mission.
This new role can lead agencies to de-risk ambitious technology development efforts to ease the transition from concept to reality. Agencies may also need to act as ‘reference customers’ to ensure a coordinated European supply of end services, for example by guaranteeing a minimum annual order.
In this context, says Tumino, an important objective of the Palermo meeting will be to identify where to focus resources for the best return on investment.
Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA’s Director of Space Transport, said the event in Palermo will be a unique opportunity to share goals and work with European stakeholders to further develop Vision 2030+ in preparation for the ESA Council. November ESA at ministerial level. “Our goal is to identify the paths we need to take to unlock Europe’s technological potential and position Europe as a key space power in a competitive global space sector,” he said.
The final program of the event and the list of roundtable participants are now available at: https://www.roundtable-spacetransportation.com/. Interested participants should Register to come before June 19, 2022.
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