On July 4, 2022, ESA published a document entitled “Terrae Novae 2030+”. It’s the name of its plan for the next 10 years.
ESA’s big ambitions with Terrae Novae 2030+
This document lays the foundations allowing Europe to play a leading role in space exploration for its future prosperity. For David Parker, Director of Human and Robotic Exploration at ESA, “this new long-term roadmap will help guide decision-makers who will ultimately make the choices about how far Europe should go in exploring space”. Terrae Novae 2030+ is not limited to exploring new worlds, but also delivers ESA’s ambitions for future European innovators, scientists and explorers.
ESA’s vision could be summed up in three parts: maintain a strong presence in low Earth orbit, send the first European astronauts exploring the Moon throughout the 2030s, and prepare for Europe’s role in the historic first human journey to Mars. This publication was unveiled on the eve of the release of highly anticipated images from the James Webb Space Telescope, on which ESA has partnered with the NASA and to other organizations. With Terrae Novae 2030+, ESA also wants to send a message: the agency needs more autonomy.
Europeans will go to the Moon and Mars
We can read in the document that “as recent events have shown, the geopolitical context can become unstable in unexpected ways”. The ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover is a prime example. While he was to be launched this year by a Russian rocketthe ESA teams were forced to push back the departure date to 2026 at the earliest, for a landing in 2027. Assuming that the mission is not canceled before… Even Perseverance’s return with Martian samples is in jeopardy. ESA believes that the fact of “not having autonomous capacities is detrimental”.
The European Space Agency believes that it is not worth developing major scientific instruments if delivery is not mastered. That said, ESA will not oppose international partnerships in the future. She will definitely give it some more thought. Nevertheless, ESA has great ambitions. The agency believes that Europeans should be on the Moon by 2030 and on Mars by 2040. With Terrae Novae 2030+, ESA also reaffirms its desire to use its own cargo and crew transport system. This roadmap is therefore a sign that the agency intends to learn from the lessons of the past.