Space agencies meet to discuss space exploration
Representatives from 14 space agencies met on Wednesday, Oct. 7, to discuss further steps in advancing international cooperation on space exploration. The meeting was held at the European Space Agency’s (ESA) European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany. All the participating agencies form the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG) – a voluntary, non-binding coordination forum to discuss global interests in space exploration.
The ISECG consists of senior managers from the member agencies. During Wednesday’s meeting, they debated on the future space activities outlined in the “Global Exploration Roadmap”, published by the Group in August 2013.
“The senior managers reiterated their support of the roadmap’s step-wise approach to the expansion of human presence into the Solar System with human missions to the surface of Mars as the overarching long-term goal,” the ISECG statement reads.
The Group devoted much time to talk over future exploration of the Moon. The managers recognized the value of human missions to cislunar space to prepare for missions farther into space. They also discussed innovative opportunities created by the presence of humans and their infrastructure in cislunar space for implementation of robotic and human lunar surface missions.
The managers put the focus on the International Space Station (ISS) as a great platform for advancing systems and technology necessary to develop future missions. The orbital laboratory, continuously occupied since November 2000, is a convergence of science, technology, and human innovation that demonstrates new technologies and makes research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. Six space agencies from the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan, and Canada are participating in the project.
On Wednesday, the ISECG group agreed to further elaborate a vision for the future of human activity in the low-Earth orbit (LEO), including maximizing the use of the ISS as an orbiting laboratory during its lifetime while noting the need for research platforms in LEO for governmental and non-governmental use after the ISS.
The managers also discussed the importance of advancing knowledge and technologies for the use of local resources on the Moon and Mars.
“This is of great interest to space agencies, which are, in coordination with the international science community and private entities, assessing sustainable exploration approaches utilizing in-situ resources – in particular, lunar volatiles,” ISECG said in a statement.
The main purpose of ISECG is to provide a forum to discuss interests, objectives and plans in space exploration, and to support the promotion of interest and engagement in space exploration activities throughout society. The work of ISECG results in documents, papers, findings, and recommendations that are critical in informing individual agency decision-making.
ISECG consists of the following space agencies: ASI (Italy), CNES (France), CNSA (China), CSA (Canada), CSIRO (Australia), DLR (Germany), ESA (European Space Agency), ISRO (India), JAXA (Japan), KARI (Republic of Korea), NASA (United States of America), NSAU (Ukraine), Roscosmos (Russia), and UKSA (United Kingdom).
Tomasz Nowakowski is the owner of Astro Watch, one of the premier astronomy and science-related blogs on the internet. Nowakowski reached out to SpaceFlight Insider in an effort to have the two space-related websites collaborate. Nowakowski's generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.