The European Space Agency (ESA) is preparing to send astronauts to the moon for the first time. The unprecedented project is included in its latest space exploration plan. The members of the organization announced in closure of ESA Ministerial Council in Seville, Spain, which to help make future missions a reality, the agency will have a budget of € 14.3 billion, which represents the largest budget increase in 25 years.
To realize its goal of reaching the moon, ESA has announced that it will begin the process of recruiting new astronauts, although it does not yet give specific dates or details about the mission. In addition, the space agency wants to undertake a number of new projects: from the removal of space debris to the minimization of earth damage caused by asteroids or solar flares, to the development of a satellite system integrated into the 5G network.
ESA's plan is also to use the LISA Pathfinder satellite, a gravitational wave detector, to accompany the Athena mission to explore the mysteries of black holes and physics in the universe. The organization is committed to continuing not only associated with the International Space Station until 2030, but also with NASA. Council members confirmed their support for the US Space Agency Red Planet sampling mission between 2020 and 2030 and the continuity of the Space Rider project.
According to Manuel Heitor, Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education and co-chair of the ESA Ministerial Council quoted in a press release, the decision "is one more step in securing Europe's competitive position in the global space exploration arena." Over the next three years, the presidency of the body will be in charge of Portugal and France, represented by the French Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, Frédérique Vidal.