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N° 6–1994: 111th meeting of the ESA Council: A decisive step forward for the European space endeavour

30 August 1994

At its 111th meeting, concluded in Paris on Tuesday 15 February 1994, the ESA Council adopted an "Act in Council" giving the definitive go-ahead for the MSTP (Manned Space Transportation Programme) and the Columbus Programme.

"These decisions give us, for the next two years, the means to lay the foundations of the European space programmes of the year 2000. While taking due account of economic realities and political developments in Europe and the world, they mark ESA's commitment to vigorous and coherent pursuit of its ambitions, both with regard to the environment, science and its applications and telecommunications, and in the area of launch systems and manned spaceflight," said Mr Jean- Marie Luton, ESA Director General. "Furthermore, in proposing general use of the ECU from 1997, ESA is playing its part in asserting Europe's identity".

Today's "Act in Council" lays the legal and financial basis for the MSTP (203 MAU(*)) and Columbus (267 MAU(*)) for the years 1994 and 1995. It also confirms the establishment of a unified structure for managing those programmes, which should result in the creation of a combined programme under the heading "Space activities related to manned spaceflight" in March 1994. The combined programme will comprise a crew transportation vehicle (CTV), an automatic transfer vehicle (ATV) and a Columbus in-orbit element, all three to be launched by Ariane-5, as well as flights in cooperation with the Russians (EUROMIR) and Americans.

The ESA Delegations have thus confirmed their resolve to participate in the worldwide cooperative effort and in the negotiations with all the Partners (USA, Russia, Japan and Canada) aimed at developing an international space station.

At the 111th meeting Council also confirmed that:

  • - the Envisat and Polar Platform Earth observation programmes will similarly be combined under a unified management structure;
  • - the definition phase of the data relay satellite programme (DRS) now has the necessary financial cover.

Finally, a number of legal texts and agreements were approved, including, in particular, the Declaration on FESTIP (Future European space transportation investigation programme).

(*) MAU: million accounting units (at 1993 economic conditions, exchange rates as at 1 January 1994). 1 AU = 1 ECU.