On March 12 and 13, 2020, senior managers representing 17 space agencies gathered virtually for a meeting of the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG) with the purpose of promoting coordinated efforts toward human and robotic space exploration on and around the Moon and Mars.
The senior managers affirmed the importance of international cooperation and planning coordination to advance agency goals in space exploration. In support of these goals, the organisations are developing a new collaborative product, the “Global Exploration Roadmap Supplement – Lunar Surface Exploration Scenario Update (2020)” to highlight advances in lunar exploration planning in the international space community since the release of the third edition of the Global Exploration Roadmap in January 2018. This Supplement represents a broad international consensus on sustained operations on and around the Moon which will directly contribute to further knowledge and develop a sustainable economic sphere, and also prepare for human missions to Mars.
The senior managers acknowledged several major updates in agency plans for lunar exploration, including plans to return humans to the lunar surface in 2024, lunar Gateway, sustained lunar surface presence, and a series of planned robotic missions. These activities are critical to facilitating scientific discovery, supporting human mission operations, and enabling future deep space exploration. The agencies also noted the growing number of private sector initiatives and proposals for commercial activities in the lunar environment, and the significant potential that these capabilities represent for enabling sustainable lunar activities.
Recognizing the growing global interest in exploration of the Moon and Mars, ISECG agencies have welcomed seven new members since January 2018: the Australian Space Agency, Luxembourg Space Agency, Norwegian Space Agency, Polish Space Agency, Romanian Space Agency, Swiss Space Office, and Vietnam National Space Center. The Supplement will include an introduction of the space exploration priorities for these new ISECG agencies and incorporate planned activities into the updated ISECG lunar surface exploration scenario.
The senior managers plan to meet again ahead of the International Astronautical Congress in the United Arab Emirates in October 2020.
This virtual meeting included representatives from the Australian Space Agency, Italian Space Agency, French Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, China National Space Administration, Canadian Space Agency, European Space Agency, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Indian Space Research Organisation, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Korea Aerospace Research Institute, Luxembourg Space Agency, Norwegian Space Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Polish Space Agency, Romanian Space Agency, U.K. Space Agency, and the Vietnam National Space Center.