The ESA Ministerial Council and why it is important.
In just over a week time the most important meeting in the European Space Sector will take place. On the 20th and 21th of November the ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level will take place in Napels. This meeting takes place at somewhat irregular intervals (the last one was in 2008, the next one is in 18 months), but at this meeting the future plans for ESA will be outlined.
All the big players (from Europe) will be there (qouting from Parabolic Arc):
- 20 member states, including newly minted member Poland (two more members than last time)
- Cooperating member Canada
- Nine European countries with cooperative agreements with ESA
- Bulgaria, the only EU country without a cooperative agreement with ESA
- European Union
- European Science Foundation
- European Defence Agency (Though I didn’t even know we had one)
- European Maritime Safety Agency.
Officially all discussion will be done at the meeting, but everyone is already promoting their ideas and agenda’s. France has been promoting an Ariane 6 lately and and the UK is boosting its funding for ESA, but isn’t really involved in launchers (or the space station). Germany wants to push for a Lunar Lander (probably in cooperation with EADS Astrium) and prefers the development of the Ariane 5 Midlife Evolution. Another issue is the ESA space station contribution of which economical troubled Italy had a big stake. The barter element with NASA has been the ATV, of which only 5 will fly. A current proposal of NASA for continuation of the barter element is that ESA will provide a propulsion module for the Orion, this is backed by Germany. Meanwhile France prefers to develop an active space debris removal mission as a barter element.
The above topics will be discussed, but since there doesn’t seem to be an agenda available yet for outsiders, the exact topics of discussion will be a bit of a suprise. The Chief executive of UK space David Williams for example thinks that the Launcher issue might be postponed to the next ministerial council meeting.
There is probably more news to come, so keep your eyes and ears open.
sources: spacenews, parabolic arc, ESA