12 February 2013. Issue 65 of the ESPI Perspectives series examines the cooperation background and the challenges Europe and Russia have to face in order to establish a solid commercial and scientific cooperation by 2030. European-Russian space cooperation, whether scientific or commercial, is far from new, but in the past decade many traditional space powers had to rethink their space policy and their priorities, taking into an account internal and external challenges.
The economic crisis has led some governments to cut their space budget. At the same time, some countries and organisations have refocused their space policies and strategies for the period until 2030 on space applications, which are easier to justify to the public than exploration programmes. Cuts in public funding and the huge costs for long term and complex programmes highlight the necessity of international cooperation in space activities. The challenges show that the nature of future opportunities will depend on the way Europe and Russia will solve their internal problems, and on the ability to overcome their disagreements. Although commercial cooperation won’t stop, such cooperation is not as durable as exploration projects that need many years to be implemented. A successful ExoMars mission could herald a new era in this respect, given the possibility of Russian participation in other interplanetary missions like JUICE. As far as space exploration is concerned, cooperation between Russia and Europe seems promising.