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Europe’s new long term space strategy calls for its own independent and competing manned program

Figure 6 from the Terrae Novae policy paper

The new colonial movement: The European Space Agency (ESA) yesterday unveiled a new roadmap for its future space effort, aimed primarily in developing an independent space program capable of launching its own astronauts and taking them to both the Moon and Mars.

The program is dubbed Terrae Novae (“New Worlds”) and aims to put European astronauts on other worlds using its own rockets and landers by the 2030s. The graphic to the right, figure 6 from the policy paper, illustrates this long term goal.

From the full document [pdf]:

From the onset, the Terrae Novae strategic roadmap has built-in the notion of more European
autonomy, leadership and identity. Recent geopolitical events are now fully reinforcing the unavoidability of this approach. Not having autonomous capabilities is indeed a hard lesson learned: developing major scientific instrumentation or technological demonstration capabilities without mastering the delivery to their destination bears a high programmatic and financial risk. Such freedom of action is not incompatible with international cooperation. Being a reliable partner having its own dissimilar redundancy in selected activities is a strong asset. Autonomy and leadership are the prerogative of major economic and political powers that influence the international setting. It is up to our decision-makers to choose to be part of this endeavour, and to further project Europe’s soft power into the Solar System for the benefit of this and the next generations. [emphasis mine]

Very clearly, the highlighted sentence refers to the end of ESA’s partnership with Russia that caused a multi-year delay in the launch of its ExoMars rover mission. Europe relied on Russia to launch and land the Franklin rover on Mars, and when the partnership broke up the rover was stranded.

The strategy also makes this important declaration:

The US approach to post-ISS LEO activities is firmly commercial based. Europe will have to adapt to this situation by defining an anchor customer approach whereby opportunities will be given to European industry to provide a service-based offer, ESA being a customer and not an owner of infrastructure. The offer will have to include access to in-orbit infrastructure a well as upload and download capabilities.

In other words, ESA is going to try to emulate NASA’s effort, as recommended in my 2017 policy paper Capitalism in Space, to no longer build anything, but instead have private enterprise supply its needs, with that private sector owning what it builds. Though the ESA appears a little reluctant to do so, American policy is forcing its hand.

Thus, the strategy calls for Europe’s private sector to develop its own commercial space stations under a framework the strategy calls SciHab. Whether it will be a single low Earth orbit station whose construction is coordinated by ESA or competing independent stations is not yet determined.

In the end, the fundamental goal of this Terrae Novae program is to have Europe capable of independently exploring the solar system by the 2030s, no longer reliant on any other big space power like the U.S. or Russia.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Not a Progressive Kevin, or anything, but perhaps ‘crewed’ better describes Human-occupied spacecraft.

  • LocalFulff

    With current Western contractors, I doubt that this “strategy” will work out well. Unless they use a true entrepreneur like Elon Musk, but for one he might not be so interested. And for second, isn’t he in the political freezer now because of his Twitter business?

    Russia seems to have been doing very well with military rocketry, as centralized as their military industrial complex is. Next US hypersonic missile planned to be operational in 2028, but the last prototype test failed again last week. Boeing kind of contractors who have no reason to care at all on their cost-plus contracts. A monopsony is when there is only one single buyer. No room for playing pretend-market there. When the government is the only buyer, the government better does it on its own. Any contracting will only be corruption and failure.

  • How long is this going to last once Russia turns off the pipelines? France is going to be the only country not freezing in the dark. I think most of Europe has more local issues to worry about.

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