News & CommentEARTH OBSERVATION

Europe Forges a Plan in Collaboration With Industry

Science  16 Jan 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5349, pp. 316-317
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5349.316

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Summary

Helen Gavaghan Last month, a European Space Agency (ESA) task force outlined a new strategy for supporting Earth-observation missions that would make industry a full partner in designing, developing, and funding an entire class of missions. The proposal, previewed at a crowded meeting of industrialists at ESA's science and technology center in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, on 18 December, would divide future Earth-observation programs into two types: scientific mission, which would be fully paid for out of ESA's budget, and applications missions, which would be private initiatives or risk- and cost-sharing partnerships between the agency and industry, which ESA would join only if the industrial sponsors already have purchasers for their data lined up. This new plan, which will be fleshed out at ESA headquarters over the next few months and presented to the organization's member states this summer, is designed to fill a looming gap in ESA's Earth-observation program.