Ministers Approve 8.26 Billion Euro Package for ESA

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PARIS — The 17 member governments of the European Space Agency (ESA), plus associate member Canada, have approved a spending package totaling 8.26 billion euros ($9.67 billion) for science, Earth observation, telecommunications, launcher and manned-space programs. Those decisions were made Dec. 5-6 in Berlin at a conference of the ESA ministers who represent those governments and make the decisions on ESA program funding.

The expenditures they approved will be made between 2006 and 2010 for most programs.

ESA had scaled back its ambitions before the conference and in the end received 95 percent of what it requested. More-expensive decisions on space exploration and Earth observation were postponed to a planned meeting in 2008.

Conference Chairman Laurens-Jan Brinkhorst, minister of economic affairs for The Netherlands, said the investments showed that Europe is capable of making collective decisions to preserve its science and technology base and invest in the future.

“If we hadn’t taken these decisions, we would have risked becoming the ‘Museum Europe’ that people sometimes talk about,” Brinkhorst said in a press briefing after the conference.