What's next for Europe in space? Summit seeks answers

Unlike other space nations, Europe cannot put astronauts into space itself - A space summit could now get things moving.

Toulouse (APA/dpa) - Europe's space agency ESA wants to make progress on the question of its own access to space. ESA chief Josef Aschbacher hopes to get a political mandate at the space summit in Toulouse on Wednesday to start discussions on the topic. As Aschbacher once said, Europe cannot afford not to have autonomous access to space. What is meant is the possibility of launching astronauts into the cosmos itself.

Europe does have a spaceport in Kourou in French Guyana, but there is no European spaceship for manned flights.

ESA astronauts are currently flying into the universe with the US space agency NASA. According to the ESA, all major powers except Europe have their own access to space. With the increasing commercialisation of recent years, private providers are also making it possible to reach the cosmos. In Aschbacher's view, Europe lagged behind, content with its status quo. According to the ESA, the possibility of taking astronauts into space on board their own vehicles would secure Europe's future in space.

The responsible ministers of the European Union also want to discuss climate change, among other things, in Toulouse. For example, ESA expects concrete political decisions on how to proceed with a project for the more targeted use of Earth observation data to mitigate climate change. Other topics will include networking and the safe use of space. The meeting in Toulouse combines a session of the ESA Council of Ministers with an informal meeting of the responsible EU ministers.