Press Release

International cooperation key to future success in space

By SpaceRef Editor
July 25, 2004
Filed under ,
International cooperation key to future success in space

UK Science Minister says agencies working together will achieve space goals

UK Science Minister Lord Sainsbury today joined with NASA and the European Space
Agency (ESA) to promote a future of close co-operation to achieve diverse goals
in space.

Lord Sainsbury outlined his vision for the UK’s future in space at this year’s
Farnborough Airshow. Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of ESA, and Rear
Admiral Craig Steidle (Ret.) Associate Administrator for NASA’s Office of
Exploration Systems, joined him at a special press conference to mark the show’s
first-ever “Space Day”.

Lord Sainsbury told an audience which included representatives from the UK,
European and US space industry: “Space has enormous potential to improve our
lives. This potential can be realised most effectively by working together with
international partners.

“We do take different approaches in some areas, and often set different
priorities and objectives. But we also have far more in common, and working
together offers us the best way of achieving our diverse goals.”

The Minister referred to past and present success, stemming from close working
within the international community. He also welcomed the recent agreement
between the EU and US, which will enable Galileo, the new European civilian
satellite navigation system, to complement existing US GPS services.

Lord Sainsbury added: “The Galileo system is a strong example of one of the UK’s
main priorities — using space where it offers a cost-effective way of meeting
our broader objectives. Galileo is expected to offer a huge range of
high-quality services and applications and is a tremendous example of how ESA
and the European Union can work together effectively for the interests of their
member states.

“International collaboration is also driving forward our advances in Earth
observation science. Of particular importance to the UK is our contribution of
the High resolution Dynamics Limb Sounder (HIRDLS) to NASA’s Aura mission to
study the planet’s atmosphere with unprecedented accuracy.”

The Minister also pointed to strong collaboration between US, UK and European
scientists in space exploration, with the joint NASA/ESA mission to Saturn
already beginning to bear fruit.

“Cassini Huygens is a great success story of Europe and the US working together
to achieve common goals with clear responsibilities. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft
is now circling the planet while later this year ESA’s Huygens probe will plunge
into the cloudy atmosphere of its largest moon, Titan.”

Lord Sainsbury emphasised the difficult choices the UK has to make when
investing in space, and outlined continuing priorities for Britain in space. As
set out in the UK Space Strategy 2003-06, these include developing satellite
technology to improve our everyday lives, Earth observation and space
exploration using cutting edge robotic technology.

“Our focus is very much on exploiting robotic technology. The great advances
made in this field offer us an excellent and cost-effective way of expanding our
knowledge of our own Solar System and of the Universe. I have already mentioned
Rosetta, Mars Express and Cassini-Huygens missions, parts of a series of top
quality missions using robotic technology, which currently offers by far the
greatest scientific value relative to investment.”

Lord Sainsbury also welcomed recent moves on both sides of the Atlantic to
develop plans for planetary exploration, saying of President Bush’s vision: “I
am excited to see NASA taking this initiative forward. I look forward to
learning of projects where we may share common objectives, and which could offer
scope for working together. ESA’s ‘Aurora’ Exploration programme has been under
development for some years and clearly has many similarities. Aurora is
beginning to take shape and I have great hopes that it will develop into a
proposal that will offer the UK an opportunity to meet our objectives, with a
strong focus on robotic exploration.”

M. Dordain said: “ESA’s recent successful science missions SMART 1, Mars
Express, Cassini/Huygens, Rosetta, and those to be launched in the coming years
— Venus Express and the James Webb Space Telescope for instance — clearly show
that Europe has already embarked on the exploration of the Solar System, and has
already engaged itself in a strong cooperation with NASA. In a wider context,
ESA intends to develop the knowledge required to master the whole architecture
of a large exploration program, including human elements.

“We are working on a robust yet flexible scenario that can take into account an
evolving international context. Two missions, two building blocks where Europe
can best exploit its scientific and industrial expertise and capabilities are
already on the drawing boards: ExoMars that will take a rover to Mars in 2009
and a Mars sample return mission in 2013.

“We at ESA share with our NASA colleagues and those at other agencies an
ambitious program of space exploration with the aim to safely land men and women
on Mars and get them back to Earth. No doubt mankind will set foot on the Red
Planet within this century, and I am convinced that, when the time will come,
even if we will not be in the driver’s seat, you can be sure that passengers and
parts of the ‘engine’ will have the label ‘Made in Europe’.”

Adm. Steidle said: “The United States is planning to boldly explore our Solar
System and it is NASA’s hope that the UK and ESA will join us as we embark on an
exciting journey to return to the Moon as early as 2015, and then extend a human
presence to Mars and other destinations.”

More information

* Farnborough International

* Galileo

* Cassini-Huygens

* Aurora


[Image 1: ]
Europe has decided to implement a satellite-based navigation system in a
two-step approach. The first step will lead to a European overlay navigation
system (EGNOS) using the two existing navigation satellite constellations (GPS
and Glonass); this system is already contracted to industry and test operations
start by 2002 . The second step (Galileo) is intended to enable Europe to become
a major partner in the setting up of a civilian satellite service around 2008.
This service will meet worldwide the multimodal navigation requirements and can
operate either autonomously or together with other systems. Aeronautical,
maritime and land mobile users will greatly benefit from the service.

Credits: ESA-J. Huart

[Image 2: ]
This is an artist’s impression of the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft approaching
Saturn and its magnificent rings. The high-gain antenna is the large white dish
at left. The glint of light behind the magnetometer boom at the bottom of the
spacecraft is a reflection of the Sun.

Credits: NASA

[Image 3: ]
Aurora will explore the solar system. ESA’s Aurora Programme aims to prepare
Europe to play a key role in the future human exploration of Mars.

Credits: ESA. Illustration by Medialab

SpaceRef staff editor.