NASA is unlikely to get any support for its lunar exploration plans from the European Space Agency (ESA), says a senior agency offi cial. The US space agency’s deputy administrator Shana Dale and advisory council member John Logsdon visited ESA in the last month to discuss co-operation.

“Europe does not need to help America. America can help itself. [But] Europe could participate in a global effort,” says ESA’s director of human spaceflight,microgravity and exploration programmes, Daniel Sacotte, adding that it is good news that NASA’s deputy administrator is leading international relations and that this had not been the case in the past. Although ESA will study lunar options, and may have proposals for its governing ministers in 2008, its exploration strategy remains focused on Mars.

The European agency’s Aurora programme includes a Martian rover called ExoMars to be launched in 2011 and a Mars sample return mission
planned for 2016.

ESA’s last significant manned spaceflight co-operative effort with NASA was on the Crew Return Vehicle for the International Space Station. The programme was cancelled by US President George Bush in 2001.

Source: Flight International