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Should ESA do more


Kertech
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So ESA is building the "back end" (no idea why they give the service module that ridiculous name!!) which is great, and it's got some mars credentials and NEO satellites.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-36343542

 

But should ESA be doing more? Europe (ESA members) have a combined economy greater than many more space faring nations, but seem reluctant to put any money into it! 

 

What should ESA do? Go it alone or collaborate (and listen) and how to get ESA more money?? 

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If you figure out how to get ESA more money, be sure to tell NASA too. The problems are the same in both cases - many competing priorities, relatively little public interest and no clear economic argument for really going all-out into space.

Edit - solve either of the latter two problems and there's your way of getting more money for ESA. The competing priorities are unlikely to go away no matter what you do, short of... <insert forum unfriendly political rant here>.

Both agencies are also obligated to spread the work around amongst multiple stakeholders which is politically understandable but not terribly efficient.

The European economy may well be be greater than many other spacefaring nations but ESA's 2016 budget is relatively small at €5.25B ($5.9). For comparison, NASA's budget for the same period is about $19.3B. The biggest item on ESA's budget is also Earth observation which is highly laudable but doesn't really make for attention grabbing headlines compared to some of NASA's deep space missions.

I would love both agencies to be doing more (edit - and I'm sure they would too) independently or cooperatively. But without a clear and sellable public justification for doing it, it's not happening any time soon sadly. 

Edited by KSK
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ESA's main purpose is to subsidize R&D in member states in order to provide jobs and develop technological competitivity. ESA member states, unfortunately, are not really interested in manned spaceflight, simply because it is less cost-effective.

Each member state injects the amount of money that it considers appropriate, and the exact proportion of ESA's budget is reinjected in contracts and research grants back into each member state. For example, the British often complain about not getting much money from ESA, but that's because the UK government doesn't inject much money into ESA. This is a shame, because the UK has a long history of innovation and exploration, and their aerospace industry has lots of potential. 

ESA could do a lot more if all member states granted the same proportion of money to ESA as France and Germany, but good luck in convincing each country to increase spending.

 

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In my opinion yes. In my opinion also my country (Finland) should take part in ESAs projects with more money and activity. On the other hand, I understand why states do not spend if they are not sure that their industry benefits enough. There are severe economic problems in many European countries (including Finland), there are more needs than money and public services must be weakened. I think that scientific knowledge is valuable as such but unfortunately most people prefer entertainment and possibility to buy insane amounts of cheap junk and it is very common to think that science is futile or even bad thing.

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Actually, it's even worse than NASA because it's a "common cauldron" situation of multiple donors having fairly tenuous control of where their "hard-earned" money goes; it's a general EU problem, and I hear some dank island is trying to quit it because of that.

It's the same for many other international organizations.

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NASA cannot use their money for what they want because congress tells them which industries have to get what part of the pork.

In EU, this problem is even more present. You have more goverments involved and everyone of them tries to get money for their own industry. Nations which less industry don't spend much money on ESA because they don't get it back.
Thus, ESA cannot do really big projects because they just cannot use their money as they want.

Don't get me wrong, ESA has very interesting projects. But you will never see projects the size of mun landing, or manned deep space missions.

NASA is only controlled by one nation, one big mind that tells them what to do. And even they only achieved mun landing because the whole nation and all spendings where controlled to achieve this goal.

ESA is controlled by a number of minds with different goals. Bad situation for big projects.
 

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1 hour ago, Streetwind said:

If you actually made a list of things ESA has been up to recently, you would be very, very surprised...

Yes, but it is, as the OP complained, disproportionately less than what one would expect from EU.

At least they aren't hung up on Muslim outreach. Yet.

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4 hours ago, KSK said:

If you figure out how to get ESA more money, be sure to tell NASA too. The problems are the same in both cases - many competing priorities, relatively little public interest and no clear economic argument for really going all-out into space.

Edit - solve either of the latter two problems and there's your way of getting more money for ESA. The competing priorities are unlikely to go away no matter what you do, short of... <insert forum unfriendly political rant here>.

Both agencies are also obligated to spread the work around amongst multiple stakeholders which is politically understandable but not terribly efficient.

The European economy may well be be greater than many other spacefaring nations but ESA's 2016 budget is relatively small at €5.25B ($5.9). For comparison, NASA's budget for the same period is about $19.3B. The biggest item on ESA's budget is also Earth observation which is highly laudable but doesn't really make for attention grabbing headlines compared to some of NASA's deep space missions.

I would love both agencies to be doing more (edit - and I'm sure they would too) independently or cooperatively. But without a clear and sellable public justification for doing it, it's not happening any time soon sadly. 

The population covered by ESA is almost twice that of the US, and if you listen to the WB and others there spending is too low and on the wrong programs. So yeah they could spend more. 

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9 hours ago, PB666 said:

The population covered by ESA is almost twice that of the US, and if you listen to the WB and others there spending is too low and on the wrong programs. So yeah they could spend more. 

But their GDP is similar to US and China.

 

I think the question that's just as big is why China and Japan aren't spending more in space...

10 hours ago, DDE said:

Yes, but it is, as the OP complained, disproportionately less than what one would expect from EU.

At least they aren't hung up on Muslim outreach. Yet.

Thankfully, NASA has been resisting a lot of Obama's 'dumber' NASA personal projects that don't make much sense, and holding it back purposefully (or it seems to be) - ARM being an example. None of them really have made much progress, if at all- probably since no one at NASA really likes them.

Seriously, I get the feeling NASA could do everything it's been doing now, with 1/2 the budget, if Congress and the White House didn't try to micromanage it. :P

 

Honestly, I wonder what caused NASA's budget to get a small bump in 1990. NASA_budget_linegraph_BH.PNG

Maybe we could learn a bit from that bump.

 

But yeah, it's a lot easier to get space budgets go down than up. :P

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7 hours ago, fredinno said:

But their GDP is similar to US and China.

I think the question that's just as big is why China and Japan aren't spending more in space...

Well, we don't really know about China, do we? Plus developing indigenous technology and buying the Buran wreckage is more expensive than just grabbing relatively off-the-shelf tech.

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As a European I feel ashamed that ESA isn't a front runner of space exploration, our cultural heritage includes the age of exploration where nations spent sometimes more money than they had (see Scotland getting absorbed because of Darien scheme) as it is Europe is too focused inwards anyway, and ESA isn't EU, so there's no overall body looking after it, so it's at the mercy of states! 

Weirdly a lot of national governments also sponsor their own space industries without going through esa, like the skylon program (which I don't think will ever get off the ground!)

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4 hours ago, DDE said:

Well, we don't really know about China, do we? Plus developing indigenous technology and buying the Buran wreckage is more expensive than just grabbing relatively off-the-shelf tech.

China's space expanding but slowly, Japan is coupled with NASA and because if the thecrecent tsunami, the global economic slowdown and the need to replace nuclear reactors everywhere they are investing in technological rebuilds everywhere.

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9 hours ago, Kertech said:

Weirdly a lot of national governments also sponsor their own space industries without going through esa, like the skylon program (which I don't think will ever get off the ground!)

I think the RE grant was more to offer with having potentially saleable/licenseable engine tech than the entire spaceplane - just imagine the military applications -  although the govt did make a few noises about sites for spaceport runways, presumably to keep people talking. Considering the decision back in the 80s that the govt shouldn't get involved in space even to direct or encourage it's surprising how big the UK space industry actually is.

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19 hours ago, fredinno said:

Honestly, I wonder what caused NASA's budget to get a small bump in 1990.

Maybe we could learn a bit from that bump.

I wouldn't put too many hopes on that bump.  It looks like it started earlier with Star Wars, and stopped when the Berlin Wall fell.  Not sure what to make of it coinciding with Dan Quayle being "put in charge of" NASA.  Presumably GHW Bush had a higher opinion of Mr. Quayle than common perception (if he didn't, I'd assume the budget would go the opposite way).

Or maybe it was just the costs of the Challenger safety program and maybe other missions making hay from Hubble PR.

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ESA doesn't have a single central budget the same way NASA or Roscosmos does. There is a central budget that's used for non-optional programmes like Copernicus, but many ESA programmes are funded on an optional basis with contributions from member states. This includes most planetary missions, including Exomars, which is why it's having budget trouble.

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Just now, DDE said:

Guys, a very dumb, very flamebaity question:

What, in your opinion, is going to happen to ESA and BSA in case of Brexit?

Nothing. It's not ( strictly ) an EU organisation ( Canada is a member! ). The EU provides a large part of it's budget.

Edited by Van Disaster
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2 hours ago, DDE said:

Guys, a very dumb, very flamebaity question:

What, in your opinion, is going to happen to ESA and BSA in case of Brexit?

Theres a pretty good flow of this style of questions. More or less rhetorical. 

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3 hours ago, DDE said:

Guys, a very dumb, very flamebaity question:

What, in your opinion, is going to happen to ESA and BSA in case of Brexit?

6e9.png

4 hours ago, Kryten said:

ESA doesn't have a single central budget the same way NASA or Roscosmos does. There is a central budget that's used for non-optional programmes like Copernicus, but many ESA programmes are funded on an optional basis with contributions from member states. This includes most planetary missions, including Exomars, which is why it's having budget trouble.

ExoMars had technical problems, not financial ones.

http://spacenews.com/q-a-european-russian-space-agencies-delay-2nd-exomars-mission-to-2020/

Also, wouldn't making major cuts by one country anger the others, or how does that work?

On 2016-06-17 at 11:39 AM, wumpus said:

I wouldn't put too many hopes on that bump.  It looks like it started earlier with Star Wars, and stopped when the Berlin Wall fell.  Not sure what to make of it coinciding with Dan Quayle being "put in charge of" NASA.  Presumably GHW Bush had a higher opinion of Mr. Quayle than common perception (if he didn't, I'd assume the budget would go the opposite way).

Or maybe it was just the costs of the Challenger safety program and maybe other missions making hay from Hubble PR.

Well, the columbia disaster didn't result in the same bump, and the program was canned by 2 years anyways. Neither did Curiosity PR.

On 2016-06-17 at 10:30 AM, Van Disaster said:

I think the RE grant was more to offer with having potentially saleable/licenseable engine tech than the entire spaceplane - just imagine the military applications -  although the govt did make a few noises about sites for spaceport runways, presumably to keep people talking. Considering the decision back in the 80s that the govt shouldn't get involved in space even to direct or encourage it's surprising how big the UK space industry actually is.

What would they use an engine like that for, aside from a Skylon-esque system.?

On 2016-06-17 at 4:47 AM, PB666 said:

China's space expanding but slowly, Japan is coupled with NASA and because if the thecrecent tsunami, the global economic slowdown and the need to replace nuclear reactors everywhere they are investing in technological rebuilds everywhere.

Source?

Also, the Japanese space budget was low, even before that tsunami...

On 2016-06-17 at 0:57 AM, Kertech said:

As a European I feel ashamed that ESA isn't a front runner of space exploration, our cultural heritage includes the age of exploration where nations spent sometimes more money than they had (see Scotland getting absorbed because of Darien scheme) as it is Europe is too focused inwards anyway, and ESA isn't EU, so there's no overall body looking after it, so it's at the mercy of states! 

Weirdly a lot of national governments also sponsor their own space industries without going through esa, like the skylon program (which I don't think will ever get off the ground!)

Well, there was money to be made on the Americas. Not so much on the Moon. For the forseeable future.

Also, the governments still have their own space programs...

On 2016-06-17 at 0:07 AM, DDE said:

Well, we don't really know about China, do we? Plus developing indigenous technology and buying the Buran wreckage is more expensive than just grabbing relatively off-the-shelf tech.

NASA and ESA aren't using off-the-shelf tech. Planetary exploration is pretty far from "off the shelf", and their primary directives are generally research. So not really.

China's major space investment right now is mainly military, not civil.

And they bought the buran wreakage? Why, for a museum? Also, source?

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On 17.6.2016 at 8:39 PM, wumpus said:

I wouldn't put too many hopes on that bump.  It looks like it started earlier with Star Wars, and stopped when the Berlin Wall fell.  Not sure what to make of it coinciding with Dan Quayle being "put in charge of" NASA.  Presumably GHW Bush had a higher opinion of Mr. Quayle than common perception (if he didn't, I'd assume the budget would go the opposite way).

Or maybe it was just the costs of the Challenger safety program and maybe other missions making hay from Hubble PR.

Makes sense, SDI causes an ramp up, end of the soviet union and cold war resulted in an stabilization as it was practical to redirect lots of high end military spending to nasa. 

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Europe, as a whole, has a larger economy than many nations, yes, but it also has much, much more people. 743 million people, and it's GDP is close to the USA's (as a whole). That means that there's less purchasing power per capita. It would make a lot of sense for them to not do as much as the USA in space.

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On 6/18/2016 at 3:29 PM, Bill Phil said:

Europe, as a whole, has a larger economy than many nations, yes, but it also has much, much more people. 743 million people, and it's GDP is close to the USA's (as a whole). That means that there's less purchasing power per capita. It would make a lot of sense for them to not do as much as the USA in space.

What do think that the WB and WTO have been complaining about for the last 7 years, Europe has not been investing in the types of infrastuctures overall that would help the economy; lots of investment in social programs abd low tech,. But the types of stimulation they need are in high tech factories, high tech computer hardware industries, space science medical technologies, basic science. These are the types of jobs that draft unskilled workers intonthe workforce and afford higher oaying jobs that brong in tax revenue to get them out of the huge debt they have accumulated investing in overvalued realestate. China has been pouring tons of money into these thing and Europe as a whole is heading to become a legacy marketplace. 

http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2014/07/11/youth-unemployment-eu-11

In so many papers the WB basically says that if you want to deal with the social problems that sporadic immigration brings you need to provide educational incentives into tech industry and promote those industries. The growth of engineering and science oriented in China and India is a magnitude higher than even those non-immigrant groups in centain parts of Europe. This does not spell well for the debt crisis that regions of the EU face. 

http://www.eib.org/projects/index.htm

Basically they are investing about 1/10 th the recommended amount, they are investing in places were the payback will be minimal, and in projects that are legacy in nature, no new innovative projects and few in places were the employment rate would help to push Europe out of its stagnated economic situation and new people arrive every day looking for employment. They are basically practicing supply-side economics in an economy that needs a keynesian boost, not everywhere, but in many isiolated places. Note i am not positing a single party, just mouthpiecing what the world financial organizations have been saying including the EIB. 

 

Quote

The fragile conjuncture increases the urgency of a broad-based policy response that strengthens growth and manages vulnerabilities.

  • Strengthening growth. In advanced economies, securing higher and sustainable growth requires a mix of mutually-reinforcing demand and supply policies. On the demand side, accommodative monetary policy remains essential where inflation is still well below central banks’ targets. However, a comprehensive approach is needed to reduce over-reliance on monetary policy. In particular, near-term fiscal policy should be more supportive where appropriate and provided there is fiscal space, especially through investment that boosts both the demand and the supply potential of the economy. In a number of countries, efforts to accelerate the repair of private sector balance sheets would help improve the transmission of monetary policy and support domestic demand. On the supply side, across advanced and emerging economies, credible and well-designed structural reforms remain critical to lift potential output, and can provide some near-term demand support directly and through increased confidence and expectations of higher future income. -IMF - 2016 report to G20 -notes

 

Edited by PB666
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