Space Transportation
Enabling & Support

Access to space and back

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ESA / Enabling & Support / Space Transportation

Rockets are the backbone of all space-based endeavours. ESA in partnership with industry is developing next-generation space transportation vehicles for the next decade that will ensure independent access to space, enable activities in space and return from space for Europe. 

Currently, Ariane 5 and Vega launch vehicles operate from Europe’s Spaceport situated in the northeast of South America in French Guiana, an overseas department of France. 

Next-generation vehicles Ariane 6Vega-C, and the reusable Space Rider for return missions are coming soon and will extend Europe’s capabilities.

Technology Readiness Levels
Technology Readiness Levels

Meanwhile, ESA looks to the future of space transportation through its Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP), weighing up the opportunities and risks of different launch vehicle concepts and associated technologies.

Its demonstrators and studies hone emerging technologies to give Europe's rocket builders a valuable head-start as they begin the demanding work of turning the chosen design into reality.

Technologies are selected on their potential to reduce cost, improve performance, improve reliability, or on their ability to fulfil the specific needs of an identified system, demonstrator or mission.

Space19+ logo
Space19+ logo

ESA, tasked with growing and supporting European businesses, is proposing a Commercial Space Transportation Services and Support Programme (C-STS) beyond 2019, which will be presented at the Space 19+ Council meeting at Ministerial level in November this year. The initial focus will be microlaunchers and national spaceports.

This programme is borne out of ESA’s long-term vision to build economic resilience within Europe’s space transportation sector. It offers the tools to create commercially successful, privately funded initiatives for new space transport services.

At Space19+, ESA will propose further enhancements to these programmes and introduce new ideas to help Europe work together to build a robust space transportation economy.

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