Space ministers discuss ‘Buy European’ initiative

The Council of the European Space Agency is discussing a resolution to use only European rockets for European space missions to boost the competitiveness of the continent’s space industry.

The Council of the European Space Agency (ESA) is meeting in Berlin on 5-6 December to decide on the long-term policy directions and budget of ESA’s activities. Among the issues discussed is a mission that would search for life on Mars and a ‘technology-independence’ programme designed to give Europe its own reliable supply of some electronic components, for which Europe currently relies, nearly exclusively, on the United States.

The ministers of 17 ESA countries and Canada are also discussing and voting on a separate ‘Buy European’ initiative to use European launch and design companies whenever possible, even if rockets from Russia or other countries might be cheaper. Due to intense competition, especially with Russia, world market prices for satellite rocket have fallen. The ESA’s Ariane programme is dependent on subsidies. Some ESA members have thus expressed their willingness to buy rockets cheaper from third countries. 

According to ESA, Europe needs to maintain and enhance its space technology research, engineering and manufacturing capabilities to avoid any dependence on third countries or lack of essential supplies.

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