Hundreds of top-level representatives from the European Union and Russia recently gathered in Moscow to draw up a road map for enhancing joint space research within the context of the EU's Sixth Framework Programme.
European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Frank De Winne's recent high-profile voyage to the International Space Station is the latest in a string of joint space efforts between Russia and the EU. Close to 100 space-related projects have been implemented jointly in over three decades of collaboration.
The ESA hopes to crack the secret of comets -the oldest building blocks of our Solar System- with its Rosetta mission.
“We are not building an EU science and technology fortress,” insists EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin. “Our interest is to build a European Research Area… and co-operation with Russian scientists and industry on space matters is of undeniable mutual interest.”
A recent workshop in Moscow organised by the European Commission, ESA and the Russian space agency Rosaviakosmos drew more than 300 high-level delegates from across Europe and the Russian Federation.
Finding new common space
Although both the EU and Russia have impressive track records in space, the complexity and multi-disciplinary character of space activities underscores the strong need for Euro-Russian collaboration in these areas to exploit the two parties' diverse specialities to the full.
Delegates at the conference discussed ways of taking collaboration in space to new frontiers under the Sixth Framework Programme, which has earmarked over €1 billion to promote integrated European aerospace research. On the agenda were the GALILEO satellite navigation system, Global Monitoring of the Environment and Security (GMES), satellite telecommunications, scientific research in space, and the intriguing field of human and robotic exploration.