Approval of funding for the planned joint European Union/European Space Agency space programme is likely to be delayed by several months because EU states have failed to agree a new budget.

The programme was supposed to have been agreed at the third EU/ESA space council on 28 November, but the meeting endorsed only the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) strategy.

GMES is a joint European Commission/ESA initiative, similar to the Galileo navigation satellite system, to deliver an Earth observation constellation.

“Endorsement of the space programme has been postponed until the EU’s finances are agreed,” says Swedish National Space Board director general Per Tegner.

Uncertainty over EU resources for space has led ESA to prepare a twin-track budget for its December ministerial council (Flight Inter-national, 1-7 November).

The EU’s deadline for agreement on financing is officially the end of 2006, but the pan-European alliance’s institutional procedures require a decision by the middle of next year.

Meanwhile, a majority of ESA states have officially expressed an interest in taking part in development of Russia’s six-man reusable Kliper spacecraft.

A 16 November ESA programme board meeting to discuss the Kliper project was attended by Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.

Attendance did not represent an official commitment, but the presence of so many member states bodes well for the project, which must be approved at the agency’s Berlin ministerial meeting on 5-6 December.

Member states that did not attend the board meeting included Finland, Greece, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal and Switzerland. Sweden was not represented by its official delegate at the Kliper board meeting and is yet to take a decision.

The UK is unlikely to have any involvement because of its long-standing policy of funding only robotic spaceflight.

  • At an International Space Station (ISS) Multilateral Control Board meeting on 1 December, a telephone conference was held between ISS partners to discuss the implications of the remaining 18 ISS Space Shuttle missions.
    ESA and the Japanese and Canadian space agencies are asking for their station modules to be launched earlier than planned.



Source: Flight International