The 22 ministers of the European Space Agency’s member countries are meeting to establish the institution’s budget for 2023-2025 and distribute it among the various programs.

The European spacecraft JUICE (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer) in a pressurized room at the European Space Agency (ESA) center, in Toulouse, France, on April 5, 2022.

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Europe wants to stay in the space race, or at least not fall too far behind. Europe’s space industry pales in comparison at a time when the US and China have relaunched space exploration and when private projects are expanding on the other side of the Atlantic, starting with Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite constellation to broadcast high-speed internet. The European consortium’s access to space is weakened by the delay of its Ariane-6 rocket, and Franco-German tensions have penalized certain projects. The contrast is reinforced by the momentum of several countries creating their own space agencies and India’s preparation for its first manned flight.

It is in this context that the 22 ministers of the member countries of the European Space Agency (ESA) are meeting in Paris from Monday, November 21 to November 23. This triennial meeting will establish the budget of the institution for the next three years and distribute it among its various programs. For 2023-2025, the ESA has asked its members for €18.5 billion, an unprecedented increase of 25% compared to 2020-2022. “This is necessary to stay in the race with the Americans and the Chinese, whose resources are increasing at this rate,” said ESA Director Josef Aschbacher. “We must not repeat in the space sector what we did in information technology. We stopped investing 20 years ago and were relegated to the second division.”

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