ESApod reports from Edinburgh, Scotland, on ESA's two-day workshop to discuss the future of Europe's space exploration strategy.
In the historic city of Edinburgh, Scotland, ESA kicked off its series of stakeholder consultation workshops that will eventually inform the long-term European space exploration strategy. This is a key element in the preparation of the next ESA Council at Ministerial level and the space exploration activities that will be tabled for decision.
This first workshop, hosted by the British National Space Centre (BNSC), saw the participation of over 170 people, from all over Europe, as well as US, Japan, Ukraine and Canada, in representation of the main stakeholder groups: the political, the scientific and the industrial sectors as well as the general public.
The Edinburgh workshop comes at a timely moment, when the ambitions and plans of other space nations are becoming apparent and talks for an international framework for cooperation in space exploration is taking shape. The Scottish Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning and Members of the Scottish Parliament, Mr Allan Wilson, introduced a session on the first day of the workshop echoing the interest and the role that the United Kingdom is playing and is willing to play in the future, even considering human exploration activities.
The workshop was the opportunity to discuss the latest status of space exploration plans, the ongoing studies and proposals at National level, especially Italy, UK and Germany and to listen to the views of participants with backgrounds as different as futurists, parliamentarians, industrialist, scientists, students, media and arts. They all contributed to the discussion from their own prospective, by addressing what could be the drivers to make space exploration a truly European societal project.
Among the participants there were also the winners of the ESA contest to allow European citizens to be more closely associated to this consultation phase.
The two days of intense discussion among the four stakeholder groups have been presented at the final plenary session and reiterated at a press conference today in London, England.
This consultation exercise will go on throughout the current year and into the start of the next.