Revolution Space: Europe’s Mission for Space Exploration

ESSC Chair Chris Rapley contributes to report as part of  the European Space Agency Director General’s High Level Advisory Group on Human and Robotic Exploration for Europe (HLAG).

April 24, 2023

On 23rd March 2023, the  European Space Agency Director General’s High Level Advisory Group on Human and Robotic Exploration for Europe (HLAG) released their report: Revolution Space: Europe’s Mission for Space Exploration

The HLAG was formed at the request of ESA’s Council in 2022, and exists to provide expertise on the geopolitical, economic, and societal relevance of the European Space sector. The report conveys the necessity for urgent action by ESA, so that Europe may become a leader in the Space Exploration arena rather than a passenger. ESA’s current inability to independently conduct a human launch is indicative of the current stagnation of the European Space Exploration effort. 

The report highlights that Europe indeed possesses the ambition and skills to ramp up Human and Robotic Space Exploration efforts. For decades Europe has dedicated itself to leading in the use of space for fundamental science, climate observation, precision navigation and weather monitoring, as a result of which it is second to none in Space for Earth, and is a global leader in the use of space science to explore the Universe. 

However, the costs of inaction are stark; Europe is in danger of being left behind in the space exploration world stage. 

The report contains a roadmap for years to come. Outlined are the ways in which Europe can rise to the challenge, including conveying the influence of Space Exploration across sectors and a unique public-private partnership. The mission is clear: Europe must lead and the time for action is now.

The HLAG is comprised of 12 members, each influential in the European Space community. They are

  • Stefania Giannini, former Minister of Education, University and Research of Italy;
  • Erling Kagge, explorer and the first person to reach on foot all three “poles” (the North Pole, the South Pole and Mount Everest);
  • Mariana Mazzucato, Professor at University College London, Director of the Inst. for Innovation and Public Purpose, and Author of Mission Economy;
  • Maria Theresia Niss, Member of the National Council of Austria and Chair of the European Inter-Parliamentary Space Conference;
  • Cédric O, Former Secretary of State for the Digital Sector of France;
  • Chris Rapley, Professor of Climate Science at University College London and Chair of the European Science Foundation’s European Space Sciences Committee;
  • Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former NATO Secretary General and former Prime Minister of Denmark;
  • Anna Rathsman, Chair of ESA Council and Director General of the Swedish National Space Agency;
  • Tomasz Rożek, science communicator;
  • François Schuiten, best-selling comic book artist;
  • Christoph Schweizer, Chief Executive Officer of Boston Consulting Group;
  • Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum.