UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


Europe urged to aim high in space exploration

23 March 2023

A panel of high level experts, including UCL academics Professor Mariana Mazzucato and Professor Chris Rapley, has recommended that the European Space Agency should embark on a revolutionary endeavour to significantly increase its autonomy in human and robotic space exploration.

Europe urged to aim high in space exploration

The purpose is to reap grand geopolitical, economic and social benefits.

In its report, entitled “Revolution Space: Europe’s Mission for Space Exploration”, the 12-member advisory group argued that human space exploration was undergoing a revolution that Europe could not afford to miss.

The report said: “Countries and regions that will not secure their independent access to space and its autonomous use, will become strategically dependent and economically deprived of a major part of this value chain. Europe’s goal should be to capture one third of this future market.”

It will also allow Europe to retain its position as second to none in Earth observation, navigation and telecommunications, and a world leader in the use of science to uncover the mysteries of the Universe, and in robotic and human exploration of the solar system.

The group presented its independent report on the state of European space exploration to the ESA Council at the ESA headquarters in Paris today. ESA’s 22 member states include the UK.

Co-author Professor Chris Rapley CBE (UCL Earth Sciences) said: “The report seeks a revolution in the European means to access space. It promises to be a game-changer, placing European astronauts firmly in the pilot’s seat on journeys to the Moon and beyond.”

Co-author Professor Mariana Mazzucato (UCL Institute for Innovation & Public Purpose) said: "The report is about being as ambitious with European space policy today as NASA was in the 1960s. It calls for a mission-oriented approach that can help direct ESA’s investment at the biggest challenges of our time and mobilise lots of spillovers across the economy. It will be crucial that both the risks and rewards of this economic activity are shared between ESA and the many businesses and other organisations required to make these missions a success.”

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