17 November, 2023

As the Chair of the European Space Sciences Committee (ESSC), Professor Chris Rapley took a commanding stance at the European Space Agency (ESA) Space Summit 2023. Addressing The Council of Ministers, he emphasised the pivotal role of space in addressing climate change.

The Council is ESA’s governing body and is made up of government ministers representing member states, associate states and cooperating states. During the summit, which took place in Seville, ministers endorsed ESA’s proposals to use space for a greener future, to take steps towards space exploration, and ensure autonomous access to space, while also moving towards a more competitive next generation of rocket launchers.

During the summit in Seville, Professor Rapley advocated for Europe to build its own launchers, ensuring autonomous access to space. He also articulated a vision for Europe to be at the forefront of a “historic new era” in space exploration, with a focus on establishing a permanent human presence off-planet.

In a separate statement to the Council, Professor Rapley underscored the need for a substantial increase in funding, urging ministers to make visionary commitments to ensure the flourishing of European space science and ESA in their second half-century.

The summit followed a report by a high-level group of experts, including Professor Rapley, recommending a revolutionary endeavor to enhance ESA’s autonomy in human and robotic space exploration. ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher hailed the report as a “wake-up call” for European leaders.

Professor Rapley’s role as ESSC Chair, marked by his extensive background in climate science and leadership positions, adds weight to his calls for visionary commitments and positions Europe at the forefront of crucial conversations on space policy, climate policy, and global challenges.

The ESSC takes great pride in Professor Rapley’s effective representation, showcasing the committee’s commitment to advancing European space science on the global stage. His leadership exemplifies the ESSC’s dedication to excellence and innovation in the pursuit of scientific knowledge.