NOORDWIJK – Senior managers representing 15 space agencies participated in an International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG) meeting with the purpose of fostering increased space exploration and utilisation through international coordination.
The meeting was held at the European Space Agency´s (ESA) European Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordwijk, Netherlands, on March 18 – 19, 2019, to discuss areas of common interest in space exploration and identify potential areas of cooperation. The agency leaders recognised the significant momentum and growing global support for exploration of the Moon, with the long-term goal of human missions to Mars. They also recognised the opportunity to capitalise on that momentum in 2019.
The senior managers affirmed that the Moon provides rich opportunities for scientific study and technological advancement and represents the next logical step for expanding human presence in the solar system. Agencies also recognised the value of human and robotic missions to cislunar space, including Gateway, to enable lunar surface missions and scientific discovery. In recognition of increasing investments related to the lunar surface, the agencies emphasised the near-term opportunities for increased collaboration and developing a reference human lunar surface architecture. Discussions yielded broad interest in the potential for in-situ resource utilisation to support an open lunar exploration architecture. The experience gained from a sustainable human presence on and around the Moon will directly contribute to enabling human missions to Mars.
The agencies reaffirmed the importance of continued activities and utilisation in low-Earth orbit (LEO) to enable scientific discovery and provide benefits to society. Agencies also noted the importance of LEO activities for understanding the effects of long-term microgravity exposure on the human body, and advancing systems and technology readiness for future exploration missions.
The senior managers noted the increasing global support for space exploration and expressed their intent to continue discussions on priorities and opportunities for cooperation. Agencies also welcomed the Australian Space Agency and the Polish Space Agency as new ISECG members, as well as the Romanian Space Agency’s application and the Hellenic Space Agency’s intent to become an ISECG member.
The meeting in Noordwijk included representatives from the Italian Space Agency, French Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, Canadian Space Agency, European Space Agency, German Aerospace Center, Hellenic Space Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Korea Aerospace Research Institute, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Norwegian Space Agency, Romanian Space Agency, State Space Agency of Ukraine, Swiss Space Office, Polish Space Agency, and the U.K. Space Agency.