On October 21, European ministers of 29 European Space Agency (ESA) and European Union states connected with space will gather in Brussels. The agenda? To delibrate upon Europe's future in space both through manned and unmanned missions. This is the second international conference on space exploration.
According to the ESA, the main focus of the conference will be on new technologies, access to space and the type of infrastructure needed in low earth orbit.
``Beyond Moon and Mars,'' activated the pre-conference webcast which kicks off with snap interviews with European astronauts who explain how they got inspired to embark on space exploration. They talk about the importance of exploration, the significance of political will and the importance of funding. The main webcast will begin later in the day (IST).
An astronaut, Frank De Winne said in an Euronews interview:`` We go and travel because we like to discover new things.'' In what perhaps can be interpreted as a subtle attack on the Apollo 11 mission. he stated: ``As an astronaut I would love to walk on the moon with international partners and do more useful work than just plant a flag. We need to set up a station on the moon,'' he said.
Once again India's emerging stature as a space power came into fore when none other than the director general of ESA, Jean-Jacques Dordain, told Euronews that Europe must face the challenge posed by countries like India, the US, Russia, China and Japan. According to him one of the targets for the European space exploration programme was Mars and prior to that the moon.
Calling the International Space Station (ISS) as the very first step in space exploration he said ``we must get most out of it by developing new technologies and partners. ``The ISS is a major contributor to global space exploration. The resumption of manned flights to the moon cannot be without international colloboration,'' he added.
He said: ``Along with Nasa we want to utilise every available opportunity to go to Mars. The main emphasis will be on whether there exists life on Mars and in what form water exists."
According to the ESA chief, the most challenging aspect of space exploration is ferrying items from earth. If these could be done then and there itself it would be beneficial, he added. ``Europe must have a place in international space projects,'' he added.