The European Space Agency will next month call for proposals for €150,000 ($189,000) studies of suborbital launch systems for commercial human spaceflight.

The agency wants to identify the credible players in Europe for what it believes could be a whole new industry. ESA wants to transfer its technology to the nascent commercial sector. “The assumption is that all the money and technology is in the USA. But Virgin Galactic is showing that the money can come from outside the USA,” says Franco Ongaro, head of the advanced concepts and technology planning department in ESA’s European Union and industrial programmes directorate.

Funded under its general studies programme, the agency compares the space tourism work with its Advanced Research on Telecommunication Satellites programme, which looks at innovative ways of developing and using technology for the commercial communications satellite market and its users.

Source: Flight International