Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Analysis of cooperation opportunities for Europe in future space exploration programmes

Final Report Summary - COFSEP (Analysis of cooperation opportunities for Europe in future space exploration programmes)

Executive Summary:
The main objective of the COFSEP study is to provide European institutional and industrial stakeholders with a comprehensive set of information to position Europe’s objectives and capabilities within the international context for the next fifteen years and define the future direction of the European space exploration program.

The first section of the COFSEP study, dedicated to country profiles, describes therefore extensively the past, current and future space exploration programs led by European agencies, but also by the space agencies of the US, Russia, Japan, China, India, Canada, South Korea and Brazil. The capabilities acquired by their industrial stakeholders as part of these programs are also outlined.

An international benchmark is then conducted as part of Section 2. At budgetary level, it appears that the US has dedicated more resources than any other nation to space exploration and may therefore appear as a partner of choice for future cooperation opportunities. However, the current economic and financial environment has led to several mission cancellations and unilateral withdrawal from cooperative projects on the US side so that European space agencies will probably rethink future cooperation schemes in order to minimize the impact of these withdrawals. Conversely, financing issues may also drive the agencies to increasingly cooperate and mutualize space missions sharing common objectives in order to split the development and operating costs.
At programmatic level, it appears that the agencies have chosen two main paths for exploration. Countries with a strong heritage in exploration and a strong scientific base (notably the US, Europe and Japan) tend to focus on multiple destinations and have future missions planned to the Moon, to Mars, to Near Earth Asteroids and to other planetary bodies such as Mercury, Saturn or Jupiter. India and China, on the contrary, focus essentially on the moon as their activities are mostly driven by capability acquisition purposes, while the activities of NASA, ESA and JAXA are essentially motivated by the expected scientific results.
At industrial level, most of the studied countries are relatively well advanced in several technological areas, such as Heavy Lift to LEO, In-orbit and in-space transportation, In space habitat and stations and autonomous remote sensing and exploration robotics. However, the colossal investments of the US and Russia in space exploration reflect naturally on the capabilities acquired by their industries. It seems therefore nearly impossible to conduct an ambitious mission without involving one of these countries as they are the only nations to master key elements such as RTGs, controlled high velocity atmospheric re-entry, advanced human life support and protection systems and to have access to the required communication navigation networks.

The fourth section of the COFSEP study is the benefit analysis, as part of which the benefits of cooperation between Europe and all other nations were assessed individually for four main types of mission opportunities (capability-driven robotic mission, science-driven robotic mission, provision of a scientific instrument, and manned spaceflight cooperation). For each of these opportunities, marks were awarded for three types of cooperation enablers (common objectives, mutual synergies and accessibility) and three types of benefits (economic, political, industrial and scientific), resulting in a final mark for each opportunity.

As part of the conclusions, the following five most promising cooperation opportunities were detailed:*
1) Cooperate with Russia on its Lunar Exploration program
2) Continue to cooperate with the US and Japan for scientific missions
3) Support the technological development of India
4) Manage to become involved in the development of critical elements of future multilateral large infrastructure programs
5) Strengthen ties with Korea and Brazil

The rationale and potential obstacles of these opportunities were presented, together with a list of actions to support the objectives of the opportunities in the short, mid and long terms. Finally a SWOT of each opportunity was conducted.

Project Context and Objectives:

For the last 40 years, space exploration in Europe has been driven by the efforts of the European Space Agency (ESA) combined to those of several European national space agencies. As opposed to other leading space nations that have made space exploration a national priority to suit political and strategic agendas, ESA’s space exploration programme has traditionally been more science-based and technologically-focused in order to meet industrial requirements. Consequently ESA’s pragmatic approach has been a key source of stability and has protected public funds and space projects from the political volatility exhibited in other countries. However, the lack of political leadership for the European space exploration programme has affected Europe’s global leadership in this domain, particularly since space exploration missions are conducted via international cooperation.

While the EU has identified space-based applications (Galileo, GMES) as policy priority areas, the enlargement of the EU’s mandate has influenced the European Council to reconsider possible contribution to space exploration policy. As such, in October 2009, the European Council and ESA co-organized an International Conference on Human Space Exploration and it was at this conference that EU Ministers expressed their support for a major financial investment in space exploration.


Considering that space science & exploration is typically the first area of cooperation between countries, future initiatives and opportunities for Europe in space exploration will be determined not only by its own ambitions and capabilities but also by those of its international partners. Therefore, it is essential for the European Commission to monitor and anticipate these ambitions and capabilities in order to be in position to take decisions in the coming years and coordinate with stakeholders (other space agencies in Europe, the industry, the scientific community and international partners).

The objective of the COFSEP study is to provide the European Commission with a comprehensive set of information to position Europe’s objectives and capabilities within the international context for the next fifteen years in order to support its role in defining the future direction of the European space exploration programme. To do so, the study is based on a detailed international benchmark of the European space exploration programme conducted at two levels:

1. Benchmark of space exploration programmes and initiatives in Europe and worldwide, with the objective to identify current and future directions, objectives, frameworks, missions and projects for space exploration;
2. Benchmark of industrial capabilities related to space exploration in Europe and worldwide, with the objective to map current and future expertise and capabilities in critical technology areas required to pursue future projects.

This benchmark assessment has resulted in a benefit analysis where objectives and capabilities of Europe and its potential partners have been compared, in order to develop scenarios for future European cooperation opportunities. Recommendations have been derived for European stakeholders on how to optimize European position.


In order to generate a relevant assessment for the European Commission, the study adresses a comprehensive scope of investigation areas summarized below.

A. Countries

• Europe (ESA) and European national space agencies (CNES, DLR, ASI, UKSA)
• Japan (JAXA)
• Russia (Roscosmos)
• Canada (CSA)
• India (ISRO)
• China (CNSA)
• South Korea (KARI)
• Brazil (AEB)

B. Sub-applications
• Capability-driven exploration: Missions designed to develop industrial and technological capabilities for the exploration (human and robotic) of celestial bodies, including planets and near-earth asteroids.
• Science-driven exploration: Planetary science missions design to acquire scientific knowledge of a given celestial body
• Human spaceflight: including all manned spaceflight missions

Astrophysical scientific missions, not dedicated to the exploration or knowledge acquisition of one specific planet or asteroid are not included in the context of this study.
This definition allows taking into account scientific missions that are not financed through pure Exploration budget (such as Mars Express for ESA, Dawn for NASA and the Venus Climate Orbiter for JAXA), but which should nevertheless be taken into account as the capabilities developed for such missions may be reused for pure exploration programs.

C. Timeframe

• Past achievement
• Present situation
• Next 15 years

D. Programme Benchmarking
• Stakeholders / institutional framework
• Strategy, policy and funding
• Past, current and future projects
• Key requirements for future projects

E. Capability benchmarking
• Key industry players
• Experience in space exploration
• Capability level in critical technology areas for space exploration

Project Results:
The present section presents only the key results of the COFSEP study. The detailed results and the associated methodology may be downloaded for free at

A. Budgetary-related results

The US have by far the largest exploration budget, with an estimated $140 billion spent between 1997 and 2011, i.e. an average budget of $9.3 billion annually, which is more than five times the space exploration budget of all the other countries combined over the same period. They are also the only one with ESA to have launched missions with a total cost of over $500 million, and all the more, over $1 billion (Cassini, Juno and the MSL for NASA, Rosetta for ESA).

However, Western countries, especially the US and Europe are currently facing strong budgetary pressure due to the economic downturn and often fail at to justifying colossal spending for space missions whose benefits on Earth are not directly tangible. These difficulties to finance the planned missions have different impacts on the cooperation initiatives. Budgetary cuts in the NASA budget, under congressional pressure, have already led to the cancellation of the US participation in two missions supposed to be conducted in cooperation with Europe: Exomars and EJSM-Laplace. Though ESA managed to convince Russia to join the Exomars project, the reconfiguration of the mission will require an additional $200 million commitment from the ESA Member states, which will probably be reluctant to agree to this financial extension as most of them have adopted budgetary austerity measures to face the economic crisis.

These uncertainties will probably lead space agencies to rethink their future cooperation schemes, in order to minimize the impact of the withdrawal of one of the partners. ESA for example, is considering limiting the involvement of foreign parties to 20% of the mission costs in its robotic projects, and as well cap its own participation in foreign missions to 20%.

In order to avoid total cancellation or delays of the projects, nations tend to limit the contributions of their partners on the system’s “critical path” , i.e. the contributions that are required to complete the system, as opposed to the addition of non-critical capabilities. While, this restriction may be perceived as a lack of trust and confidence in their partners, it is the only way for the mission leader to ensure that the primary objectives of the programs will be reached.

On the contrary, financing issues may drive the countries to increasingly cooperate and mutualise space missions sharing common objectives in order to share the development and operating costs. This is partly the case of MarcoPolo-R, a joint ESA-JAXA candidate mission: Japan initially planned to conduct a similar mission at national level, Hayabusa-Mk2, but finally decided to join ESA on MarcoPolo-R.

B. Program-related results

The studied space agencies have adopted different strategies regarding the destination of their space exploration missions. NASA, ESA and JAXA do not focus on a single destination and have future missions planned to the Moon, to Mars, to NEAs and to other planetary bodies, such as Mercury, Saturn or Jupiter. India and China on the contrary focus essentially on the Moon.
This difference can partly be explained by the fact that the programs from “newcomers” in space exploration such as China and India are essentially driven by capability acquisition purposes. Both countries have adopted staged approaches, planning for the development of Orbiters, followed by Landers, Rovers and finally Sample return capsules. The Moon is therefore the simplest, and the cheapest, way to reach these objectives.

Missions developed by NASA, ESA and JAXA on the contrary are essentially driven by their expected scientific results, which allow notably the agencies to justify the costs of the missions. The destination of their missions is therefore of utmost importance as it defines the whole mission. Industrial Capabilities are also being acquired as part of these missions but at higher cost than for Lunar missions due to a greater complexity.

Mature countries share general common objectives such as the Asteroid sample return (OSIRIS-Rex for NASA, potential MarcoPolo-R mission for ESA and JAXA, Hayabusa-2 mission for Japan) and the search of past and present life on Mars (Exomars for ESA and Russia, MSL for NASA, potential MELOS mission for Japan). Moreover, these agencies agree to prepare for future manned missions by acquiring new capabilities and extending Human presence in space, notably as part of the ISECG framework, which favours a phased capability-driven approach.

The main justification to engage in transnational co-operation is clearly the need to share the (usually very high) cost and risk of exploration missions, which allows a cooperating nation with a given budget to participate in a larger number of missions or in missions it could not afford alone. One aspect of this bartering is that some nations may thus elect to rely on building blocks for their mission that are already existing/developed/proven in another nation, instead of spending part of their resources to indigenously develop the required technology, even if the local industry could very well do it. This allows the “borrowing” nation to be more ambitious in their mission goals and to advance faster toward their scientific objectives.

The common objectives of nearly all agencies pave the way for future cooperation activities. Spacecrafts developed by China and India for capability acquisition purposes could notably be fitted with scientific payloads of more mature countries, which would allow both countries to reach their respective objectives and to share the mission costs. However, these spacecrafts may not be dimensioned for large scientific payloads and the primary partner may be reluctant to host a state of the art payload by fear of not being credited for the results of the mission (as was the case with India for Chandrayaan-1) and in the end being marginalized on its own mission.

Cooperation between space agencies for capability-driven programs is also an option, which is being actively considered as part of ISECG notably. However, past experience shows that critical technologies are virtually never shared as part of these missions, which means that space agencies would have to accept to specialize in specific building blocks and focus their future development in these areas only, thus becoming dependent one of another for future programs. This loss of independence may be a strong inhibitor for countries which are used to master all space exploration technology areas such as the US or for developing countries which are eager to acquire capabilities and not yet ready to specialize in one given area.

Moreover, this is not taking into account the strategic nature of space applications in general which are equally served by the building block capacities required for space exploration (access to Earth orbit, LEO and near-Earth settling and transportation, rare metal mining on Moon and asteroids, in particular).

C. Industrial capability-related results

Space exploration in general requires a number of basic enabling capacities which are needed to successfully implement the various types of missions that are pursued or envisioned today.

1. High capacity Earth launching

Access to space from the Earth surface is the first capacity needed to engage in space exploration. Today the capacity to perform routine launches of high mass payloads is shared by Europe, the US, Russia and China. Japan and India also have independent space access, but with more limited capacities (mass-wise and also from an operational viewpoint). The US are the only nation committed to developing new high capacity launch systems (NASA’s SLS and commercial Falcon 9 Heavy) capable of 100+ tons in LEO and which should become operational at the end of the decade. Russia has a long history (under the Soviet regime) of robust launch capacities (including for high capacity systems) but appears to still be struggling to revive and stabilize their former industrial capacities. Higher launching capacities are needed to support the more ambitious exploration scenarios envisaged today (L2 or Moon permanent station, Mars missions with order of magnitude larger capacities, either robotic or manned). In such missions, a large quantity of hardware will need to be delivered in Earth orbit in preparation for the trip to the final destination. In this respect, there is a tradeoff to work out between launching many smaller mass loads and pre-assembling them in LEO, or launching fewer but larger loads which will require less assembly work in orbit. The existence and cost efficiency performance of an “in-orbit transportation infrastructure and assembly factory” would obviously be a key factor in such a tradeoff.

2. In-orbit and in-space transportation

The US and Russia undoubtedly have acquired the largest experience in space transportation, for both unmanned systems (automated systems) and manned systems (US and Russian capsules, US Shuttle), and the US are now pioneering a commercial approach to space transportation . Russia is today the only nation with operational capacities for routine human transportation (excluding here China still at the demonstration level). Europe has recently been very successful with the ATV cargo transport which has demonstrated faultless autonomous RV and docking performance (demonstrating European mastery of GNC and avionics technologies). Japan has also developed an in-orbit cargo transportation capacity with the HTV (although not autonomous for docking). China has been successful as well in demonstrating in-orbit RV and docking capacity in addition to demonstrating their indigenous technology for manned capsules.
Everyone is still using conventional chemical propulsion (for which the US and Russia have the largest industrial product offer, as compared to much more limited options in Europe) for in-orbit and in-space transportation. Industrial R&D is however taking place, at seemingly moderate and preliminary level, around high power electric propulsion and nuclear-based propulsion (mostly research labs) in the US and possibly in Russia.
There should soon be an overcapacity of space transportation systems (especially for cargo), possibly making in-orbit and in-space transport more affordable in view of the extensive transportation needs arising from the various exploration scenarios which are contemplated today.

3. In-orbit and in-space habitats and stations

Through the ISS, several nations have acquired industrial experience in the development and assembly of in-orbit habitat and facilities. Europe (mostly Italy and Germany), Russia, Japan and the US have all contributed pressurized modules. Canada (and to a lesser extent Japan and also Europe) has developed expertise in the kind of large robotic systems that will be needed for in-orbit and in-space assembly and cargo handling. The largest, most comprehensive and advanced experience of space habitat and facilities is here again in Russia (Mir, Salyut) and especially in the US (commercial initiative with Bigelow’s inflatable “space hotels, labs or storage places”). China is aiming to build its own orbital station within the coming decade.
Most space faring nations would be able to contribute to a major international project such as a L2 or Moon permanent space station.

4. Human life support and protection

Life support and protection technologies have been developed primarily by those nations which have invested in and achieved human space flight, which means essentially the US and Russia, and now China. The support and protection has so far addressed low exposure space flights (low radiation levels and/or short duration trips, such as in the Apollo Moon missions). The capacities are today limited to rather conventional air revitalization and cleansing technologies but include also the use of advanced materials in spacesuits and shielding.
The next steps in space exploration (L2 or Moon station, Mars trip) are much more challenging with regard to human life support and protection. They will require very high reliability self-sufficient closed cycle systems for air and water recycling, which none of the space faring nations has yet achieved. R&D at moderate level is performed in the US and in Europe to develop such systems, some of them addressing as well longer term goals of incorporating food and waste processing/recycling or oxygen/water in situ mining. The question of long term radiation protection beyond LEO still remains a fully open challenge, as it seems, for all nations involved in space exploration.

5. Controlled high velocity atmospheric entry

The ability to perform controlled high velocity space flight entries into dense atmospheres is a major component of both human space flight (return to Earth) and planetary exploration, including with robotic vehicles. The experience of this issue (and resulting technologies – such as for thermal protection and GNC – and associated operational processes) is again largely in the hands of Russia and the US which have mastered human spaceflight for the longest and which have taken the concept of space plane the farthest. Europe has gained some knowledge of the issue, but limited to design and experimental work (Hermes and various other programs) without full scale achievement, although the European industry can easily align top level expertise in materials and GNC/avionics. Through its manned program, China has acquired some expertise of the re-entry issues, but is presently considerably behind both the US and Russia.

6. Soft and precision landing in non-cooperative environments

Soft landing of spacecraft on planetary surfaces has been achieved essentially by the US (with the most extensive experience by far) and by Russia (during the Soviet era). Precision landing in a non-cooperative environment requires prior extensive mapping of the surface in order to characterize usable landmarks. Europe has not had the opportunity (mission profile) to really demonstrate this capability yet, although GNC and avionics competencies to achieve this goal are strong within the European industry.

7. Autonomous remote sensing and exploration robotics

The capabilities to develop space instruments and robotic systems for in-situ measurements and exploration are widely diversified and shared among many actors in basically all of the space faring nations (industry, but also research and academic labs). The effort put in developing highly integrated, low mass/low consumption autonomous solutions for those instruments is largely re-used across missions and leads to some level of specialization among actors. Remote sensing instruments provide the most common ground for transnational cooperation in space exploration missions (contribution of instruments in foreign missions).
Here also, the widest experience of developing and operating autonomous remote sensing and exploration robotics (rovers in particular) is found in the US, particularly with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Europe has a strong experience of orbital remote sensing of most types, including in very harsh environments, but significantly more limited still regarding surface exploration of space objects. Japan has capabilities similar to that of Europe (although less diversified), and India and China have just started to get involved in space exploration remote sensing.

8. High power energy sources

Energy sources are one of the main limitations in space exploration today (the main source being solar power using conventional solar photovoltaic generators). Nuclear power sources are seen today as likely indispensable enablers of future exploration missions. There is experience of radioactive thermal generators in both the US and Russia (today the only two nations capable of delivering a space qualified RTG) typically at the (few) KW level. Mid/long term R&D is on-going (US, possibly also Russia) to design orders-of-magnitude more powerful generators. Europe is only starting to address this issue.

9. Deep space navigation and communications facilities

Deep space missions (beyond the Earth-Moon system) require an extensive system of very large antennas spread across the Earth to perform the TT&C functions. Only the US is really self-sufficient in this respect, and nations like Europe and Japan tend to rely on the US facilities (at least partly, to supplement their own TT&C network) to perform their deep space missions. The question here is more that of proper institutional investment rather than of industrial capacities, although the European industry is probably not among the most competitive for space ground equipment. The European space industry could however provide state-of-the-art, high value contributions (Galileo technologies, optical links...) in the future navigation and communications infrastructures that will likely be developed to facilitate the exploration of the Moon and Mars in the next decades.


As part of the benefit analysis, cooperation opportunities between Europe and its potential partners were assessed for the following four types of missions based on a methodology described extensively in the report, which results in a final mark for each cooperation opportunity.

1) Joint capability-driven robotic mission to a planetary body for preparing future manned activities
2) Joint development of a scientific mission
3) Provision of a instrument to be fitted in a larger scientific mission
4) Cooperation for future Human spaceflight activities (parallel or post-ISS)

The results of this analysis are the following.

A. Joint capability-driven robotic mission to a planetary body for preparing future manned activities

Capability-oriented robotic missions interest a significant number of countries, wishing to acquire new competences for their local industrial and technological stakeholders. This provides for numerous cooperation opportunities with established but also emerging countries. The best opportunity for this type of mission is cooperation with Russia (final mark of 84%), due to a lower chance of unilateral withdrawal than with Japan and the US, who are suffering from strong budgetary pressures on their exploration budgets.

B. Joint development of an entire scientific exploration mission

Scientific exploration remains the privilege of a few nations and space agencies. Emerging space countries tend to focus on capability acquisition and demonstration and therefore favour the development of orbiter, landers and rovers for Moon and Mars missions. Only the US and Japan have the same scientific objectives than ESA in the science area, with bottom-up selection processes. They are therefore partners of choice for the joint development of large scientific missions, with final marks of respectively 69% and 60%.

C. Provision of a scientific instrument as part of an exploration mission

The benefits of cooperation at instrumentation level are relatively limited since, in most the cases, ESA will be the country hosting the instrument thus deriving small economic benefits. There are a few opportunities for European scientific stakeholders to provide instruments for foreign scientific missions, but they are limited to the countries that develop their own scientific missions, Japan and the US essentially.

The final marks of all cooperation opportunities remain low as cooperation at instrumentation level is intrinsically unbalanced. One of the partners finances 95% of the mission, while the other partner will only provide 5%. If Europe is providing the 95%, the impact of the contribution of its partner remains limited and will only derive small economic benefits for Europe. Conversely, if Europe provides the 5% contribution, the small value of this cooperation will not allow deriving large industrial and scientific benefits.

D. Cooperation for Human spaceflight activities

Cooperation for Human spaceflight activities is limited to the two countries with an autonomous capability in this area. With the potential exception of China, with whom such a cooperation would be particularly complicated due to ITAR and the technology transfer issues, only the US and Russia have the financial and technological capacity to associate ESA to manned spaceflight activities.
The marks of the cooperation opportunities with Russia and the US are particularly (respectively 89% and 83%) high since Europe cannot conduct any human spaceflight activities on its own as it does not have the financial and technological capability. Cooperation is therefore essential in this area. Russia has a higher mark than the US since its objectives seem potentially more in line with ESA objectives than those of the US.


A. Strengths

At institutional level:
• Scientific budgets within ESA are particularly stable, which is a strong guaranty for international partners
• Diversity of destinations provides for numerous cooperation opportunities and serves the interest of the scientific community
At industrial level:
• The participation of Europe to the ISS allowed it to acquire strong capabilities through cooperating, notably for propulsion and service modules that may be used for NASA MPCV
• European capabilities spread between ESA Top-4 contributing member states, ensuring support from at least these member states for future initiatives

B. Weaknesses

At institutional level:
• Lack of regularity in launch of missions in Europe (no robotic mission launched since 2005) may lead to loss of capabilities
• The governance of current space activities in Europe lacks a political dimension which is required for a long-term vision.

At industrial level:
• Europe lacks the technologies required for independence (RTG for robotic missions, life support and protection for human spaceflight)
• Europe did not manage to develop critical elements of the ISS, thus being restricted to the development of redundant systems

C. Opportunities

At institutional level:
• EC-led initiatives could add the political dimension required for Exploration missions and long-term programs
• Additional funding for Horizon 2020 (especially compared with FP7 where 85% of the resources were earmarked for GMES) could create boost for R&D in space exploration
• Bottom-up selection processes of scientific missions from ESA, NASA and JAXA could benefit from a slight alignment to facilitate international cooperation

At industrial level:
• Develop partnerships with emerging countries could create significant opportunities
• Participation in another large cooperation should allow Europe to acquire new capabilities

D. Threats

At institutional level:
• No political leadership at European level (either by the EC or by ESA) could slowdown the development of European space initiatives
• Lack of budget for future missions due to austerity measures and political failure of justifying cost of exploration
• Europe could agree to funding of exploration missions (Exomars, Lunar Lander) but not invest sufficiently in R&D programs, thus missing the opportunity to reach technological non-dependence

At industrial level:
• Widening technological gap with the US, Russia and China if funding level remains constant
• Limited acquisition of capabilities due to decrease or even cancellation of Europe’s participation to new international initiative due to lack of budget.


Five cooperation opportunities presenting potential strong benefits for Europe have been identified through the benefit analysis and the SWOT of the European space exploration program.
These top-five opportunities do not necessarily match the best-ranked opportunities of the benefit analysis since they consider not only the current and expected in the near term state of objectives and capabilities of the countries but also possible long-term prospects.
Each of the following five cooperation opportunities will be detailed afterwards:
1. Cooperate with Russia on its Lunar Exploration program
2. Continue to cooperate with the US and Japan for scientific missions
3. Support the technological development of India
4. Manage to become involved in the development of critical elements of future multilateral large infrastructure programs
5. Strengthen ties with Korea and Brazil

Their rationale and potential obstacles will be presented, together with a list of actions to support the objectives of the opportunities. Finally, a SWOT of each opportunity will be conducted.
A. Opportunity 1: Cooperate with Russia on its Lunar Exploration program
1. Rationale
• Russia is currently refocusing its national space program with Lunar exploration as a key focus, through a stepped program which has been granted considerable funding. The objective is to develop the Lunar infrastructure in order to prepare future manned mission and set up a permanent Lunar Base
• Europe does not have the financial and technological capabilities required to conduct an equivalent program. International cooperation is therefore a necessity.
• Cooperation with Russia would derive significant economic, political, industrial and scientific benefits and may be considered as accessible. However, Europe should be associated to the Russian program from the start in order to ensure it is given a significant role.
• Participation to this program may allow Europe to acquire technological capabilities in several key areas in line with Europe’s objectives notably: Inflatable structure (for soft landing, entry heat shell, surface habitat modules), Electric propulsion, Cargo transportation and Rover technologies
• The European Union decision to potentially conduct space exploration activities was supported by the political aspect of such programs. This cooperation opportunity entrusts the EU with strong financial and political responsibilities

2. Issues
• ESA budgetary situation and ISS-related expenditure prevent any short and mid-term large investment in Human spaceflight and exploration.
• Russia will keep European contribution out of critical elements as it is a national initiative with Russia as sole leader of the initiative

3. Actions
Actions suggested as part of this opportunity include the following:
• Short term: Tap into Horizon 2020 resources to support the R&D efforts in previously mentioned technological areas, while ESA is still engaged in ISS
• Short term: Facilitate access of Russia to FP space programs and raise maximum funding of EU per project in order to encourage joint R&D efforts between European and Russia stakeholders
• Mid-term: Include development of Lunar infrastructure elements (such as a rover and a habitat module) in FP9 to demonstrate technologies and interoperate with Russian base
• Mid-term: Capitalize on experience acquired through ATV and Lunar lander to develop a Cargo Lunar Lander which would resupply the Lunar base.
• Long-term: Partner with Russia for flight opportunities for European astronauts
• Long-term: Develop autonomous capabilities in Human space exploration by developing capabilities in Human life support and protection

4. SWOT of the opportunity for Europe
• Strengths: Financing of most infrastructure and mission critical elements is done by Russia; Europe is in a position to choose what capabilities it wishes to develop. Potential acquisition of key capabilities.
• Weaknesses: Europe kept out of critical path; Lack of control on the program; Strong financial requirements on EC side.
• Opportunities: Build strong relationship and complementarities with Russia, which could lead to additional future cooperation, notably for Mars Exploration.
• Threats: Potential changes of plans or failure of Russia; Contribution of Europe too small so that Russia does not burden with cooperation for future plans.

B. Opportunity 2: Continue to cooperate with the US and Japan for scientific missions
1. Rationale
• ESA, JAXA and NASA have all implemented bottom-up processes for the selection of their scientific missions, thus allowing their respective scientific communities to coordinate and possibly make plans for user-driven scientific cooperation
• The current financial context and the natural enhancement of the scientific objectives is a strong driver for cooperation.
• ESA, JAXA and NASA already cooperate extensively on a bilateral basis (notably BepiColombo and the potential MarcoPolo-R with JAXA, and Cassini-Huygens with NASA), but cooperation may be optimized to derive more benefits for Europe.

2. Issues
• The timing of the selection processes of each agency are not aligned even for missions where both parties have planned to cooperate right at the beginning of the scientific call for proposals
• The financial issues of NASA have led to the unilateral withdrawal of the US agency from the ESJM-Laplace, illustrating the risk of mission cancellation even for scientific missions

3. Actions
Actions suggested as part of this opportunity include the following:
• Short term: ESA should limit is participation to 20-25% for foreign missions of agencies where the scientific budget is as stable as the science budget of ESA.
• Short term: International consultation between scientific stakeholders should be facilitated to align general objectives and easing the identification of potential cooperation area
• Mid-term: The timing of the selection processes in each agency could be aligned in order to avoid that one of the partners allocate funding to a mission that will be cancelled afterwards due to the mission being not selected by the other partner.
• Long-term: Establish a joint selection process for large missions (L-Class for ESA), gathering scientific communities from Europe, US and Japan

4. SWOT of the opportunity for Europe
• Strengths: Europe is a partner of choice for international cooperation as its scientific budget is stable and its missions selected well in advance of launch; Strong scientific capabilities in Europe at instrument level.
• Weaknesses: Logistical and political factors limit the potential for a truly joint mission. Most of the time, cooperation is limited to provision of instruments or development of independent elements.
• Opportunities: Enhanced coordination between countries could lead to the development of more ambitious missions benefiting pre-eminently to the scientific community
• Threats: Change of objectives of NASA and JAXA towards more operational or capability-driven missions; Potential additional budgetary cuts

C. Opportunity 3: Support the technological development of India

1. Rationale
• India has a strong budget, which is poised to increase together with Indian economic development. Space exploration will receive a more prominent share of the space expenditure once the development of GSLV is complete.
• One of the key objectives of India is to achieve global standard in space technologies. Significant capabilities will need to be acquired. The main partner of India, for robotic and human exploration technology development until now has been Russia.
• However, current issues around Chandrayaan-2 and the refocus of Russia on its national exploration program could lead to opportunities for Europe
• Cooperation present significant technology transfer opportunities from Europe to India, in an application area which is far less critical than Satcom or Earth Observation since the commercial market is very limited. If Europe does not provide its technologies to India, ISRO will either get it from another space faring nation or develop it entirely domestically.
• Indian organizations already participate to over 90 FP7 projects and to large infrastructure programs such as ITER.

2. Issues
• India may require a more significant technology transfer than what European stakeholders were expecting or ready to agree to
• Europe may face pressures from its other international partners to ensure that no critical technologies are being transferred as part of the cooperation.

3. Actions
Actions suggested as part of this opportunity include the following:
• Short term: Invite India to participate to Lunar Lander / Lunar Polar Sample Return mission possibly through the development of an additional element such as a mini rover, which was planned for Chandrayaan-2.
• Short term: Develop participation of Indian stakeholders in FP programs. India contributed to 90 FP7 programs but not a single one of them in the Space area.
• Mid-term: Try to contribute to ISRO Mars Orbiter mission, preferably at system level, in order to develop links between Indian and European industrial stakeholders.
• Mid-term: Develop Lunar activities with India, on capability-driven programs
• Long-term: Partner with India for the development of capabilities that none of the agencies own.
• Long-term: Become involved in Indian Human Spaceflight program

4. SWOT of the opportunity for Europe
• Strengths: Europe owns numerous capabilities that India is trying to acquire; India has a potential strong future space budget
• Weaknesses: Space cooperation between Europe and India is not well developed. India currently partnering with Russia.
• Opportunities: Contribute to the dissemination of European technologies and standards; Become partner of choice for India in other areas and become associated to Indian future space exploration technological developments
• Threats: India using transferred technologies to gain market shares on foreign institutional markets at the expense of European industrial stakeholders.

D. Opportunity 4: Manage to become involved in the development of critical elements of future multilateral large infrastructure programs

1. Rationale
• As part of the ISS cooperation, Europe was being kept out of the “critical path” of the program, since it did not develop any elements considered as vital for the station.
• Russia and the US acquired key capabilities with the ISS that will be required for any future large multilateral programs. The contribution of Europe however, is entirely dispensable since the US and Russia could have developed the same systems.
• In order to ensure that it will be part of any future programs, and to increase its political and technological influence, Europe needs to acquire unique capabilities, that won’t be possessed by other nations

2. Issues
• The US and Russia are technologically much more advanced than Europe and continue to invest considerable resources into R&D programs so that the current situation may be irreversible and could even worsen significantly over the years.

3. Actions
Actions suggested as part of this opportunity include the following:
• Short term: Concert with the European stakeholders to identify key technologies in which Europe might have a head-start and that could be required for future missions. Focus on technologies whose improvment could have a strong impact (in terms of mass or performance) on future missions
• Short term: Dedicate a significant share of the Horizon 2020 budget to Space exploration technologies and more specifically to improve the identified technologies
• Mid-term: Continue efforts at ESA level to acquire missing key technologies (RTG / RHU, soft landing with retrorockets, capsules for sample return, rovers...)
• Mid-term: Demonstrate technologies through bilateral missions and gain flight heritage
• Long-term: Convince international partners that Europe is a reliable partner that should be involved at critical level for demonstrated technologies.
• Long-term: Potentially initiate a large multilateral program that does not involve the US and Russia, but rather Japan, China and India so that each partner provides critical elements.

4. SWOT of the opportunity for Europe
• Strengths: Europe does not start from scratch and already owns numerous strong capabilities for exploration
• Weaknesses: Europe has a considerably more limited Exploration budget than the US, Russia and China
• Opportunities: Affirm the technological leadership of Europe on several capabilities, become a necessary partner for every future exploration initiative and therefore be able to influence the mission to fulfil European objectives
• Threats: Specialize excessively. Dedicate too many resources into technologies that won’t finally be required. Financially not be able to develop large cooperation.

E. Opportunity 5: Strengthen ties with Korea and Brazil

1. Rationale
• Brazil and Korea have ambitions in space exploration but no budget nor capabilities as of today as they are engaged into other application area
• Both these countries have a strong potential in space exploration since they have significant space budgets, bound to increase in the coming years.
• Numerous cooperation opportunities may therefore arise in the future as Korea and Brazil will be desirous to acquire capabilities and develop their activities in Space Exploration
• If Europe manages to support the development of these programs from the start, the established relationship could lead to larger cooperation benefiting to both parties in the long term.

2. Issues
• Current lack of budget of Brazil and Korea could delay or lead to cancellation of initiatives so that European efforts could remain fruitless.

3. Actions
Actions suggested as part of this opportunity include the following:
• Short term: Provide technical and scientific support and expertise to the Brazilian and Korean agencies for their exploration preparatory programs
• Short term: Partner with their scientific stakeholders to include one instrument into a European-led mission
• Mid-term: Support the development of their first mission, through industrial partnerships and possibly technology transfers
• Mid-term: Conduct a small exploration mission at ESA level including Brazilian and / or Korean built elements. For example, European scientific mission fitted with a foreign impactor or mini-rover.
• Long-term: Ensure that European stakeholders, at ESA or national agencies level, is consistently associated to each space exploration initiative from Brazil and Korea
• Long-term: Associate these countries through bilateral agreements to any large international initiative, as was tentatively the case for the US and Brazil for the ISS

4. SWOT of the opportunity for Europe
• Strengths: Europe has successfully conducted a large number of robotic missions and has acquired capabilities that will be required by Brazil and Korea. Brazil very oriented towards cooperation (EO with China, Argentina and the US, Science with Europe, Launchers with Ukraine etc...); Korea has already cooperated with European industrial stakeholders (TAS and Astrium for KOMPSAT)
• Weaknesses: Brazil is already considering a launch on a Russian launcher for ASTER.
• Opportunities: Further develop political relationship between Europe and Brazil / Korea. Spread European technologies and standards; become main partner for future initiatives.
• Threats: Not manage to accompany Korea and Brazil all the way through their programs so that they end up turning towards Russia and the US.

Potential Impact:
The COFSEP study is, as of 2012, the only freely available document describing all the Space exploration activities undertaken and planned by the main space faring nations. It is also the most detailed source of information for industrial capabilities acquired through these programs.

The country profiles may therefore be used by policy makers and institutional and industrial space stakeholders of all countries as a consequential source of information about their potential partners and the related past, ongoing or future programs.

The sections on the benefit analysis and the conclusions are focused on Europe. Their main objectives are to provide European stakeholders, and especially the European Commission, with the strategic guidelines to develop the European space exploration programs. The COFSEP study provides them with additional tools to elaborate the future cooperation scenarios regarding space exploration and to determine where Europe has the critical technologies to contribute to the global space exploration effort.

In order to disseminate the report to the largest audience, the study will be available free of charge on the COFSEP website ( Institutional and industrial stakeholders, especially those interviewed as part of the study, will also be informed by email of the availability of the report.

The interim results of the study were presented as part of the 2012 Global Space Exploration Conference, which was held in Washington from May 22nd to May 24th 2012. The final results of the study will be detailed during the 2012 International Aeronautical Congress (IAC) which will be held in Italy, Naples on October 1-5, 2012.

List of Websites:
Website :

Contact: Jean-Baptiste Thépaut, Euroconsult, +33149237526