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Science & Exploration

N° 65–2004: ESA’s Exploration Programme "Aurora" gets further boost

20 December 2004

The countries participating in the Preparatory European Space Exploration Programme "Aurora" have recently confirmed and increased their contributions.


This preparatory phase has attracted additional contributions for the period 2005-2006. Sweden has now joined the programme. The subscribed envelope has nearly tripled, from the original €14.3m to around €41.5m currently.

Italy has confirmed its interest and ambitions in space exploration by further increasing its participation. The United Kingdom will also contribute additional money. France, the third-largest contributor to the programme, is followed by Belgium, Spain and The Netherlands. Other participants are Austria, Switzerland and Portugal. Canada, a Cooperating State, also confirmed an increased contribution.

On 15 December, the ESA Council approved the Agency’s budgets for 2005, including the budget for "Aurora". These developments enable major industrial activities to continue and will enable the work on preparing the full programme proposal to move ahead in line with original plans.

Invitations to tender for industrial contracts will be issued starting next February. These include work for the ExoMars mission and the Mars Sample Return mission. Other activities will cover in-orbit assembly, rendez-vous and docking, habitation and life-support systems plus a broad range of technology development work. Industry will also be called upon to contribute to the definition of a European Space Exploration strategy and architecture.

The preparatory phase of the "Aurora" Exploration Programme will culminate in a full programme proposal, which will be submitted to the next ESA Council meeting at ministerial level, currently scheduled for end-2005.

For further information, please contact:

ESA Media Relations Division

Tel: + 33(0)

Fax: +33(0)


Piero Messina

Aurora Exploration Programme

ESA HQ - Paris

Tel.: +33(0) or +33(0)



For further information:

ESA Media Relations Division

Tel: +33(0)

Fax: +33(0)