ESA's Mission

Rhinocrates

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While it's the 'European Space Agency', ESA is not to be confused with the European Union, so it includes the UK - represented by the UK Space Agency (UKSA). Certainly it's very much looser than NASA or any national space agency. Nonetheless it has its own aims and aspirations. For a snapshot of its latest vision, adopted unanimously on 19 November 2021 at ESA’s Intermediate Ministerial Meeting in Portugal, see:



Key features: independent European crewed access to space, sample return from ice moons of the outer planets as part of the search for life.
 
Addendum. I wouldn't be unhappy if they dusted off the plans for Hermes and stripped it back to basics. It seems to have been a classic example of mission creep - from a crew transport to space to being a space station. Otherwise, there have been various capsule designs.

The question is how ESA is going to deal with commercial space. Ariane 6 is obsolete before it even launches and European startups have been unremarkable. The major companies like Airbus haven't had much in that direction either. Reaction Engines might be a prospect, but Skylon as an operational system is more an aspiration than a plan. They've concentrated on propulsion, sensibly - and successfully - limiting themselves to an achievable incremental development pathway that can attract real investment along the way. This declaration might change things.

It will certainly be interesting to see how this Matosinhos manifesto manifests.
 
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Addendum. I wouldn't be unhappy if they dusted off the plans for Hermes and stripped it back to basics. It seems to have been a classic example of mission creep - from a crew transport to space to being a space station. Otherwise, there have been various capsule designs.
The reason they had mission creep was because they never knew what the mission was and kept searching for one.
If the goal was to get European astronauts into space on a European spacecraft, they could have/should have started with something simpler and cheaper.
 
Addendum. I wouldn't be unhappy if they dusted off the plans for Hermes and stripped it back to basics. It seems to have been a classic example of mission creep - from a crew transport to space to being a space station. Otherwise, there have been various capsule designs.
The reason they had mission creep was because they never knew what the mission was and kept searching for one.
If the goal was to get European astronauts into space on a European spacecraft, they could have/should have started with something simpler and cheaper.
Over a quarter century ago I wrote a paper on this very topic:


A copy can be found here:


An IAF precursor of that paper got me two mentions in Luc van den Abeelen's book "Spaceplane HERMES", and the Space Policy version is citation #1 in Wikipedia's Hermes entry at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermes_(spacecraft) (and no, I did not edit that page). At the time I heard that some people in France were none too happy about a German aerospace engineer publicly performing an independent postmortem of that program...

Martin
 
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Relevant to this thread.

A Paralympic sprinter from the UK has been named among the latest intake of astronauts recruited by the European Space Agency.

John McFall, 41, becomes the first astronaut with a physical disability, or para-astronaut, to be recruited by the space agency in a drive to overcome the barriers that prevent disabled people from participating in space missions.

Also joining the astronaut class of 2022, the agency’s first new recruits since 2009, is Dr Rosemary Coogan, 31, who spent time in the Royal Navy reserve and gained a PhD in astronomy before working at the French Space Agency.

Coogan becomes the first UK woman to join ESA as a career astronaut and the second person from the UK to join the agency’s astronaut corps after Tim Peake, a member of the class of 2009.

 
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