European ‘Space Council' to consider priorities as USA maps out future exploration

The European Commission has outlined the first elements of a European space policy, which is expected to be devised and approved before the end of 2005. NASA, meanwhile, has published a series of strategic roadmaps for future space programmes.

The EC says the Galileo navigation satellite system remains a priority, together with the global monitoring and security (GMES) constellation as the "second European Union flagship". Member states in the so-called "Space Council" have been invited to submit their national priorities to "contribute to the preparation of the European space programme, through the European Space Agency". The EU and Russia have also discussed co-operation in several areas, including the Galileo and Russian Glonass programmes, space transport and GMES.

NASA's five strategic roadmaps cover the Sun-solar system connection, the search for Earth-like planets, solar system exploration, robotic and human Mars exploration, Earth science and applications, and exploration of the universe. Sun-solar system missions will include the Solar Dynamics Observatory to be launched in 2008. The search for Earth-like planets includes the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which is threatened with a severe delay from 2012 because of budget and technology problems.

Solar system exploration will include a series of Discovery and New Frontiers missions, and a new Flagship mission series includes a proposed flight to explore beneath the ice of Jupiter's moon Europa.

Exploration of Mars will depend on precursor missions to the Moon to prove the technology. The Earth science programme will include a closer examination of the interaction of natural and human activity with the atmosphere, and the JWST is also a key instrument in the programme to explore the universe.


Source: Flight International