Ever wondered how much Europe spends on space activities?
While the national space agencies of Western Europe have separate national programs, they also contribute to ESA, The European Space Agency, a Treaty based intergovernmental body.
This intergovernmental structure makes it that the sovereign countries can freely decide how high their contribution to programs will be.
This often makes it difficult to bring together funding for more costly programs or programmes that do not fit national priorities or capabilities. The result is a string of cancellations of more ambitious programs. Infamous examples are the Hermes Space Shuttle (which would have been somewhat larger than the SNC Dream Chaser), a manned crew capsule program derived from the ATV (Autonomous Transport Vehicle and the larger version of the Columbus research module that is part of the ISS.
Nevertheless, programmes that have an obvious strong economic or scientific return, such as the satellite navigation, Earth Observation and Space Transportation (independent launch capability via Ariane 5 and 6), are well-funded, and so are the Scientific and Human exploration programme (ISS participation).
Still, the participating states have decided that ESA must invest in permanent and basic capability, with funding remaining above a minimum level, and making sure that it remains a well-funded future-oriented and relevant institution.
That is why ESA’s activities fall into two categories – ‘mandatory’ and ‘optional’. Programmes carried out under the General Budget and the Space Science programme budget are ‘mandatory’; they include the agency’s basic activities (studies on future projects, technology research, shared technical investments, information systems and training programmes).
The 2019 5.72 Billion budget is a 39.44 % increase over the 2014 4,102 Billion budget, underscoring the willingness of Europe to invest in the increased importance of the expanding space market and the recognition of the relevance of space activities in our daily lives (e.g. navigation services, Earth observation products).
The significant budget increase ESA saw in the last five years, contrasts with the 21.5 B Budget NASA receives for fiscal year 2019.*
National Contributions in 2019
The ESA Member States are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Further to the 22 Member States, Canada and Slovenia, based on their agreements with ESA, qualify to fully participate in the programmes of the ESA Education Office.
- ESA Website
- * Spacenews: Jeff foust, February 17, 2019, Final fiscal year 2019 budget bill secures $21.5 billion for NASA: An appropriation bill signed into law Feb. 15 gives NASA $21.5 billion for fiscal year 2019, $1.6 billion above the administration’s original request.