Expert group to discuss question of European access to space

The discussion about independent access to space for Europe has taken a step forward.

An advisory group of experts is to look into manned space exploration for Europe in future, as decided at the space summit in Toulouse on Wednesday. "This decision will shape what Europe will look like in the next decade," said the head of the European Space Agency ESA, Austrian Josef Aschbacher.

Josef Aschbachers speech at the ESA Council Meeting in Toulouse

In November, the advisory group is to report on progress, and in the spring there could then be more far-reaching findings. Unlike other space powers, Europe cannot put its astronauts into space itself. Although there is a European spaceport in Kourou in French Guyana, there is no European spacecraft for manned flights. Currently, ESA astronauts fly with the US space agency NASA.

The European Union ministers responsible for space and ESA also discussed the protection of infrastructure in space and the control of space debris. France's Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, who presided over the meetings of the ESA Council of Ministers and the informal meeting of EU ministers in Toulouse, said: "Space is neither a Wild West nor a muck bucket." There would also have been discussions about Europe's autonomous positioning in interstellar reception. The ministers also supported ESA projects on, for example, the more targeted use of Earth observation data to mitigate climate change. A new space summit is planned for 2023.