Exploration & Science

Inspiring Europe Through New Frontiers

The exploration of outer space and space science has long fascinated humankind, providing a rich source of inspiration, creativity and knowledge.

Traditionally often considered a tool of prestige and power, today space exploration is increasingly recognised as enabling socio- economic growth and as strengthening positions of global leaders. Bold and daring science and exploration missions ignite curiosity, innovation, and collaboration. They can drive positive societal impact and elevate Europe’s standing in the global space community and enable stronger and meaningful cooperation with both established and new international partners.

Exploration and Science are a critical pillar of the industrial capabilities required for other space activities. These activities are crucial to society at large as “curiosity and exploration are vital to the human spirit” as put forward by the UN Action Team on Exploration and Innovation at UNISPACE+50 and can instil a sense of collective achievement within nations and across humanity. According to the OECD, when primary grade children are asked to draw their future, space features prominently. However, 15-year old students are much less enthusiastic about STEM: this gradual decrease in enthusiasm is particularly visible in Europe.

A plethora of recent developments in space exploration and human spaceflight indicate a rapid evolution towards a new set-up in the international spacescape.

While the era of the ISS as the only permanently inhabited orbital outpost is gone, an increasing focus on lunar missions is emerging alongside a growing appetite for the commercial utilisation of LEO. These developments are highlighting the cost and consequences of dependencies developed by Europe in recent decades, as also recognised by the High-Level Advisory Group on Human and Robotic Space Exploration for Europe.

Yet, as recognised by the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG) all efforts are aligned towards the expansion of human presence into the solar system. To better understand the universe and expand our presence in the solar system, European Terrae Novae Strategy and Voyage 2050 need to be sustained and reinforced with strong political backing of space science and exploration and their synergies, as a European strategic priority. ESPI’s aim is to ensure Europe remains innovative and takes the lead in space science and exploration, building upon its heritage of pioneering missions such as Rosetta and Huygens and leading a flagship mission of global dimsension contributing to humanity’s understanding of the universe.

To this end, ESPI will facilitate:

  • Dialogue between policy making, scientific and industrial communities to provide the required political recognition and policy direction needed for science and exploration.
  • A wider policy recognition of space science and exploration as a medium to instil a shared societal belief in a future of opportunities and prosperity; and as a tool of Europe’s soft power.
  • Devising capabilities and scenarios striving for a strong European role in the future of space exploration activities.
  • Reflections for optional components of science programmes and public-private partnerships to ensure growth beyond a too often stagnating mandatory baseline.
  • The development of methodologies to measure the impact of space science and exploration on the wider society, beyond traditional SEI assessments.
  • Sustained development of multilateral global governance frameworks for space exploration and resource utilisation.
  • Approaches to answering the mysteries of potentially habitable worlds within and beyond our solar system, that can represent a watershed moment for humankind.
  • Creating stronger ties and societal cohesion between continents, nations, generations and societal layers based on the inspirational dimension of space.

Recent Work Exploration & Science

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