European Space Agency with a Record Budget
European Space Agency (ESA) members agreed Thursday a record 14.4 billion euros budget, promising to maintain Europe's place at the top table as the United States and China press ahead and industry disruptors such as Elon Musk's Space X present new challenges, AFP reported.
The budget is split, with a total of EUR 12.5 billion over three years and a total of EUR 14.4 billion over five, an increase of around four billion compared to the previous budget.
"Its a surprise, even more than I proposed... this is good," ESA head Jan Woerner told a press conference after ministers from 22 Member States met in Seville for two days.
Woerner said the funding pledges mean that ESA can implement a full series of programs plus additional scientific work, pointing out steps to increase ground monitoring as part of efforts to monitor climate change, among other things.
"It is a giant step forward for Europe," said Jean-Yves Le Gall, head of the French space agency.
"We broke all records in terms of financial contributions," Le Gall added.
Germany made the largest contribution to the budget - around € 3.3 billion, followed by France - € 2.7 billion, Italy - € 2.3 billion and the United Kingdom with € 1.7 billion.
ESA is not a body of the European Union and therefore the UK's position as a member remains unchanged despite Brexit.
Among the projects highlighted by ESA were the first Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, LISA and the Athena Mission, designed to "make fundamental progress in our understanding of the basic physics of the universe."
ESA has confirmed its commitment to the International Space Station by 2030 and its participation in the Gateway project, the first space station scheduled to orbit the moon.
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