A 12-strong advisory group is to guide ESA’s human and robotic space exploration as the agency aims to increase European ambitions in space.

The high-level advisory group will provide ESA’s decision-makers with an independent and objective high-level assessment regarding the geopolitical, economic and societal relevance of human and robotic space exploration for Europe, and recommended options for a way forward.

The group – comprised of eight men and five women – contains political figures including a former prime minister, as well as economists, academics and an explorer.

‘Stronger role of Europe in human and robotic space exploration’

“The Space Summit gave me the mandate to establish a High-Level Advisory Group on Human and Robotic Space Exploration for Europe – and I see this as an outstanding opportunity to prepare a far-reaching decision by our Member States on the future of Europe in space exploration,” said ESA’s director general, Josef Aschbacher.

“I very much appreciate the readiness of outstanding group members to provide their diverse and unmatched expertise to make the case for a new, much stronger role of Europe in human and robotic space exploration.”

November summit

The group is due to meet twice in 2022 – in September and November – so that its work can inform decisions taken at the ESA Council of Ministers held towards the end of November 2022.

It will then meet again in January 2023 and publish a report in March 2023 that will inform the deliberations of a Space Summit that is foreseen to take place as a joint ESA-EU Space Council in the second half of 2023.

Kai-Uwe Schrogl, ESA’s special advisor for political affairs, said: “The decisions at the Space Summit 2023, initiated by ESA’s Director General Josef Aschbacher, are expected to open up a new era for European space exploration, autonomous but also ready for cooperation with traditional partners and new ones.”

Full high-level advisory group

The 12 members of the group are: Stefania Giannini, former Minister of Education, University and Research in Italy; Erling Kagge, an explorer who was the first person to reach on foot all three “poles” (the North Pole, the South Pole and Mount Everest); Mariana Mazzucato, Professor at University College London, Director of the Inst. for Innovation and Public Purpose, and Author of Mission Economy; Maria Theresia Niss, Member of the National Council of Austria and Incoming Chair of the European Inter-Parliamentary Space Conference; Cedric O, Former Secretary of State for the Digital Sector of France; Chris Rapley, Professor of Climate Science at University College London and Chair of the European Science Foundation’s European Space Sciences Committee; Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former NATO Secretary General and former Prime Minister of Denmark; Anna Rathsman, Chair of ESA Council and Director General of the Swedish National Space Agency; Tomasz Rozek, a science communicator; Francois Schuiten, a best-selling comic book artist; Christoph Schweizer, Chief Executive Officer of Boston Consulting Group; and Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum.

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