Europe is part of a new era in space transportation with new commercial initiatives offering services to space, in space, and back from space springing up within the privately led and funded space sector. ESA welcomes this development towards further European industrial growth and competitiveness.
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.
ESA offers a range of support options. Entities with commercial initiatives that complement existing ESA space transportation programmes and activities, can apply for expert technical and business advice from across the Agency, access to facilities and resources, support from relevant ESA Business Incubation Centres, co-funding, and facilitation to access risk finance opportunities through a collaboration between ESA and the European Investment Bank.
Initiatives proposed to ESA are expected to result in a commercially viable service with a financing scheme based on private investments.
To test the field, ESA reached out last summer with a call for ideas on new space transportation services. It resulted in 79 proposals of which 41 were considered eligible for expert advice from ESA. ESA chose three winning proposals.
A growing demand for launches of small satellites on microlaunchers has piqued ESA Member States’ interest in national spaceports. ESA has therefore proposed that the second element of the new programme will consist of ESA tailored expertise and assistance to each Member State requesting it, in the domain of spaceports and test infrastructures under their jurisdiction as well as related services.
This programme proposal is set for decision at Space 19+ as one of the main items contributing to the future of European Space Transportation.
ESA’s support will stimulate an entrepreneurial mindset and readiness for risk taking across the European space transportation sector creating greater diversity in the European space industry competing in the global marketplace.