ESA boss Jean Jacques Dordain confirmed on Wednesday's space day that Europe wants to develop its own crew transportation system (CTS).
Dordain, ESA's director general, says that Europe currently has to rely on its American and Russian partners to get astronauts into space, but having its own spacecraft would give the EU independence.
Dordain says: “When the shuttle fleet was grounded we had to rely on our Russian partners to get astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS). They did a marvellous job, but we are getting strong requests from ESA members that we need to have our own vehicle.”
Dordain suggests that EADS Astrium ATV Evolution demonstrator (see page 14) could be the way forward.
“Europe has the expertise to build its own CTS – we have landed on Saturn's moon Titan and successfully implemented automatic docking with the ATV. Of course we can do it,” he concludes.
Dordain says that he will be seeking outline approval for such a solution at ESA's Council meeting in November 2008, but full approval and development will take many years.
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