On September 9, 2020, senior managers representing 23 space agencies gathered virtually for a meeting of the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG) with the purpose of promoting coordinated efforts in human and robotic space exploration on and around the Moon and Mars.
During this meeting, the senior managers highlighted the importance and benefits of international cooperation and coordination to better advance each agency’s goals in space exploration. They recognised the just published “Global Exploration Roadmap Supplement – Lunar Surface Exploration Scenario Update” as representative of another major milestone in progress of international space exploration collaboration. This non-binding ISECG document builds on the 2018 Global Exploration Roadmap and captures recent worldwide advances in lunar exploration planning with an updated lunar surface scenario and joint lunar surface exploration objectives. The supplement also reflects the latest missions and plans from nine new ISECG members and describes emerging national and commercial capabilities to broaden available options for future exploration initiatives towards the Moon and Mars. In the coming months, ISECG agencies will continue to assess technology gaps for exploration and the exploration scenario to further elaborate lunar exploration activities and prepare for the first human mission to Mars.
A major focus of the meeting was discussions on recent developments in space exploration and associated opportunities for additional space agency collaboration. The senior agency managers also remarked on the great interest in lunar exploration expressed by ISECG members across the globe reflecting high expectations for exciting new achievements in lunar science and exploration.
The senior agency managers took the opportunity to welcome the new members from Brazil (AEB) and Thailand (GISTDA), which joined ISECG since the last senior agency managers meeting in March, bringing ISECG membership to 24 agencies. The new members expressed their great interest to engage in the work of ISECG and to pursue new opportunities for cooperation with international entities towards mutual goals in exploration.
The agencies agreed to further encourage global participation in ISECG, in particular reaching out to countries with emerging space programs. Fostering diversity of the forum will further broaden the opportunities for coordination and offer new ways of working together. Furthermore, senior agency managers underlined the importance of communicating the numerous benefits from space exploration that deliver high returns for the invested funds to societies and economies. In this context, space agencies consider reaching out to and inspiring the young generation essential to implement ambitious plans for exploration of the Moon and Mars.
During the meeting the role of ISECG Chair transitioned from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The agencies thanked JAXA for its dedicated leadership, in particular for guiding the development of the updated lunar surface exploration scenario and the publication of the respective Supplement to the Global Exploration Roadmap.
This virtual meeting included representatives from the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), Australian Space Agency (ASA)/Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Italian Space Agency (ASI), French Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), China National Space Administration (CNSA), Canadian Space Agency (CSA), German Aerospace Center (DLR), European Space Agency (ESA), Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA, Thailand), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), Luxembourg Space Agency (LSA), US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Norwegian Space Agency (NOSA), Polish Space Agency (POLSA), Romanian Space Agency (ROSA), Russian State Space Cooperation (Roscosmos), State Space Agency of the Ukraine (SSAU), Swiss Space Office (SSO), United Arab Emirates Space Agency (UAE SA) and UK Space Agency (UKSA).