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ESA Gets Its Biggest Budget Ever, Supports Reusable Spaceship and ISS Extension

This past week (Nov. 27-28) in Seville, Spain, European ministers in charge of space activities along with participants from Canada and the European Union gathered for the ESA's Council at Ministerial Level, or Space19+, to allocate funding for the space science programs they have planned for the 2020s.
This past week (Nov. 27-28) in Seville, Spain, European ministers in charge of space activities along with participants from Canada and the European Union gathered for the ESA's Council at Ministerial Level, or Space19+, to allocate funding for the space science programs they have planned for the 2020s.
(Image: © ESA - S. Corvaja)

Reusable spaceships and the International Space Station shine in the European Space Agency's (ESA) largest budget ever — $15.9 billion (14.4 billion-euro).

This past week (Nov. 27-28) in Seville, Spain, European ministers in charge of space activities along with participants from Canada and the European Union gathered for the ESA's Council at Ministerial Level, or Space19+, to allocate funding for the space science programs they have planned for the 2020s. 

"Together we have put in place a structure that sees inspiration, competitiveness and responsibility underpin our actions for the coming years, with ESA and Europe going beyond our previous achievements with challenging new missions and targets for growth along with the wider industry," ESA Director General Jan Wörner said at the event, according to a statement.

Related: Debate Only Beginning Over Funding 2024 Return to the Moon

At the meeting, the ESA's 22 member states were asked to approve programs for the upcoming decade. Among the new programs is an initiative to fly LISA, the first space-based gravitational-wave detector, alongside the black-hole-mission Athena. Additionally, ESA green-lit a new reusable spaceship, confirmed support for a groundbreaking Mars mission and emphasized its continued commitment to the space station. 

Regarding the space station, ESA committed to continuing its support until 2030. This includes continuing to contribute to transportation and habitation modules that will be used for NASA's Gateway, the planned space station that will orbit the moon.  

Additionally, the member states confirmed support for a Mars sample-return mission that will be completed in collaboration with NASA. This initiative will include missions between 2020 and 2030 that will land on Mars, collect and store samples and then deliver those samples to Earth. 

ESA ministers also announced that they have given the go-ahead to Space Rider, the ESA's new reusable spaceship. 

 A few other highlights: 

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