photo: Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of ESA (source:ESA)
The negotiations went on until deep in the night yesterday and started this morning again at 7.30. But when the decision was made on Ariane, others were also quickly made.
Here is a list of the most important and exciting things that happened on the last day of the ministerial council:
- An adapted version of the Ariane 5 ME will be developed in parallel with the first phases of the design of the new Ariane 6. The 5 ME design will be adapted to have as much commonalities as possible with its successor. Overall this is hailed as a succes for Germany, but France notes that this is the first time ESA has committed to the development of the Ariane 6.
- As barter element of the ISS, ESA will develop a propulsion module for Orion. This will give ESA a foot in the door in future explorations of the universe as well give ESA the change to contribute for the first time to a manned launch vehicle. EADS cheered, since the npropulsion module will be likely based on the propulsion module of the ATV, which they have produced. This has also been hailed as another succes for Germany.
- Britain joins the ISS. Britain already announced to increase their ESA contribution with 25%, putting just above Italy and thereby joining the small group of top contributors to ESA. Now they have commited parts of this money the microgravity research on the ISS ( 15 million over 4 years) and they will also make a one time 20 million investment in the Orion propulsion module. These investment give astronaut in training Tim Peake a bigger change to earn his wings.
- The science budget is flatlined. And with inflation that means there will be a small decrease, though there also will be a small increase due to new member states Poland and Romania. This also means continued support for missions like Bepi Colombo, Gaia and the LISA Pathfinder.
Other decision like continued ESA support for Guiana Space Centre (a small win for France), renewed support for telecommunications and earth observationcan be found in the factsheet. Or in my post about the first day. The next ministerial meeting will be in 2014.