European space exploration is getting its biggest financial boost in 25 years. At a conference in Seville, Spain, the 22 member states of the European Space Agency (ESA) on Thursday agreed on a €14.4 billion ($15.8 billion) budget for the next five years.
“It’s a real surprise, it’s more than I proposed, I’m very happy,” ESA Director-General Jan Wörner said.
ESA is closely watching the US space agency NASA’s Artemis mission, which aims to send astronauts to the moon by 2024. European states are so far merely providing a module for the Orion spacecraft, but ESA chief Wörner on Thursday assured member states that “we will send Europeans to the moon.”
Germany now contributes the lion’s share of the budget with €3.3 billion, which amounts to 22.9%. France follows with 18.5% before Italy with 15.9%.
Deutsche Welle gives a breakdown of how the finances will be used:
Gateway, the first space station to orbit the moon, allowing European astronauts to go to the moon for the first time.
To develop “the first fully flexible satellite systems to be integrated with 5G networks”
The Hera mission, in connection with NASA, to protect the earth from asteroids
The first gravitational wave detector in space, LISA
The black-hole mission Athena, designed to “enable fundamental advances in our understanding of the basic physics of the Universe.”
The “Mars Sample Return” mission, also in cooperation with NASA
Space Rider, “ESA’s new reusable spaceship.”