European Space Agency accelerating commercialization, workforce efforts

A stream of venture capital is driving new commercial space efforts across Europe, Josef Aschbacher, director general of the European Space Agency told an audience at the 39th Space Symposium.

Aschbacher said his agency has signed 43 agreements with venture capital firms to invigorate efforts across the continent, pumping nearly $500 million into the space sector. A portion of that money, plus direct investment by ESA is push efforts to develop launch vehicles and spaceports.

“I was calling at the end of last year that Europe is entering a launch crisis,” Aschbacher said, European space firms had strong launch partnerships with Russia’s space agency Roscosmos. But embargos that followed the Russian invasion of Ukraine cut off that avenue, leaving Europe with a single launch vehicle and a single South American spaceport, ESA rushed work on a launch vehicle, the Ariane 6, and is working out technical faults found in the heavy lift rocket ahead of a planned maiden flight, ESA is also working with startups across Europe which are developing launch vehicles that can deliver small satellites to orbit.

“We have made sure these space investments are done in the most efficient way to meet the needs of society,” Aschbacher said.