Representatives from the UK and other European political, industrial and scientific sectors, together with members of the general public are helping to shape the future direction of space exploration.

At the first in a series of stakeholder consultation workshops held in Edinburgh on the 8/9th January 2007, hosted by the European Space Agency [ESA] and the British National Space Centre [BNSC], the future strategy for ESA’s long-term exploration of the solar system and beyond was debated by the various stakeholder groups from Europe in consultation with colleagues from across the world.

The Edinburgh workshop comes at a timely moment, when the ambitions of other space nations are becoming apparent, for Europe to shape and focus its own Space Exploration plans and how these might integrate with global space endeavours. The conclusions from this and future pan-European stakeholder consultation meetings will set the scene for key decisions to be taken at the ESA Council meeting at Ministerial level scheduled for 2008.

Commenting on the workshop Malcolm Wicks, Minister for Science and Innovation said,” ESA are to be congratulated on taking such an imaginative and transparent approach to defining Europe’s future space programme and, importantly, how we in Europe might collaborate with other nations to develop a truly global space exploration strategy.

The UK has a vibrant space science and industrial community that already makes a significant contribution to our knowledge economy. Its experience in developing innovative space technology will continue to ensure the UK plays a leading role in both European and global space exploration in the future”.

Professor Keith Mason, Chief Executive of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council [PPARC] and Chair of the BNSC Space Board said,” In recognition of the developing worldwide interest in space exploration focused on the Moon and Mars, PPARC are setting up an ad-hoc UK Exploration Strategy Working Group that will review global and European plans and establish UK interests and opportunities. A Report, which will also include a review of the case for human space exploration in the global context, will be submitted to the UK Space Board this summer”.

The UK is already the second largest European contributor to ESA’s Aurora programme of planetary exploration and is currently involved in developing an ambitious Mars Rover project that will fly onboard Europe’s ExoMars mission to the Red Planet slated for launch in 2013.

Dr. David Parker, Director of Space Science at the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council [PPARC] clarified the worldwide view, “Stimulated by NASA, the past year has seen a remarkable effort by fourteen worldwide space agencies to begin to discuss how to work together in this new age of space exploration, to create a so-called Global Exploration Strategy, and the UK is a key player. Dr. Parker added,” The UK has already completed a feasibility study of two robotic mission options to the surface of the Moon focused on exploiting the UK’s leadership in small satellites and miniaturised science instruments.” MoonRaker, a small propulsive Lander to provide in-situ geological dating, and MoonLITE equipped with missile-shaped penetrators carrying seismometers to investigate the lunar interior and a telecommunications capability to demonstrate high data rate telecoms at the Moon. These mission options exemplify the UK’s expertise in small satellites, robotics and miniaturised instruments and MoonLITE’s telecoms capability could provide a vital contribution to NASA’s ambition of establishing a Moon base by 2020″.


Peter Barratt – PPARC Head of Communications
Tel: +44 [0] 1793 442025
Mobile: +44 [0]787 960899

Gill Ormrod – PPARC Press Officer
Tel: +44 [0]1793 442012
Mobile: +44 [0] 7818 013509

Dr. David Parker – PPARC Director of Space Science at BNSC
Tel: +44 [0] 1793 44
Mobile: +44 [0] 7901 514969

Piero Messina – Dir. Human Spaceflight, Microgravity & Exploration Coordination Office – HME-CO
European Space Agency, Paris
Tel.: +33 (0)1 5369 7410
Fax: +33 (0)1 5369 7188
Cell: +33 (0)6 8771 5126

Franco Bonacina – ESA Head of Media Relations
ESA Media Relations Office
Tel: +33(0)
Fax: +33(0)

Rebecca Underhill – Senior Press Officer
Science and Innovation Desk
Department of Trade and Industry
Tel: 020 7215 6403

Notes for Editors

Images and movies

PPARC images –

ESA images –

Related information on UK Lunar Penetrator Consortium

Workshop background information:

ESA Exploration workshop – Edinburgh 8th and 9th January 2007: Reviewing the European Exploration Scenarios


ESA has been working on a framework for European space exploration for several years. During the last two years broad stakeholder consultations were conducted addressing the four identified major groups of stakeholders: political institutions, scientific community, industry and the general public. Based on the stakeholder groups’ interest and needs in space exploration, ESA will build the basis for the development of a comprehensive, inspirational long-term strategy for European space exploration.

Between 2005 and today ESA set up a multidisciplinary scenario team, which in particular analysed the potential European rationale and objectives for space exploration. As a result of this work a number of future space exploration scenarios have been developed responding to the requirements of the stakeholder groups above. These scenario options now need to be reviewed by representatives of the stakeholder groups as they will form the basis for the further definition of the European implementation approach and priorities for future space exploration.

In parallel to the scenario development, activities are implemented for the preparation of detailed architecture studies. The main objective of these preparatory activities is to define different architecture configurations which enable the implementation of the emerging scenario.

Workshop Objectives

The major objectives of this workshop were to:

  • Foster the development of a coherent European rationale for space exploration by reviewing and evaluating European long-term space exploration scenario options developed by ESA, but also by other European organisations;
  • Progress on the European high-level requirements for the space exploration architecture as a starting point for detailed architecture analysis;
  • Identify opportunities for strategic international coordination on the definition, build-up and operations of the space exploration architecture through reviewing plans and architecture concepts of prospective international partners.

Workshop Programme

Over the two days representatives from all four stakeholder groups gave presentations on possible exploration programme scenarios. The workshop participants were asked to identify areas of commonality and for each stakeholder group to identify critical elements, which are necessary to maintain the interest of that particular stakeholder group.

The analysis of the presented scenario options continued in multi-disciplinary working groups. Furthermore, international space exploration architecture configurations and related capabilities were presented and reviewed.

The workshop programme was composed of a balanced mix of presentation and working group sessions, providing each participant with the opportunity to both gather information and share their point of view with the other participants. The Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) is the UK’s strategic science investment agency. It funds research, education and public understanding in four broad areas of science – particle physics, astronomy, cosmology and space science. PPARC is government funded and provides research grants and studentships to scientists in British universities, gives researchers access to world-class facilities and funds the UK membership of international bodies such as the European Particle Physics Laboratory, CERN, the European Space Agency and the European Southern Observatory for Research in the Southern hemisphere (ESO). It also contributes money for the UK telescopes overseas on La Palma, Hawaii, Australia and in Chile, the UK Astronomy Technology Centre at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh and the MERLIN/VLBI National Facility.

PPARC is a partner in the British National Space Centre [BNSC] which coordinates the UK’s civil space activities.