International workshop paves way to future cooperation for space explorationOver sixty participants representing space agencies from Europe, North America and Asia have today concluded the 2nd ESA/ASI Workshop for International Cooperation for Sustainable Space Exploration, held in Sarteano, Italy.
The workshop is the second in a series of international workshops jointly organised by ESA and the Italian Space Agency ASI, that are meant to facilitate the establishment of a global international cooperation framework to support the space exploration plans of various space faring nations, including NASA's Vision and Europe's Aurora Programme.
The gathering was convened by Simona Di Pippo, Director of the Observation of the Universe at ASI, and Daniel Sacotte, Director of Human Spaceflight and Exploration at ESA, at the historical site of Abbazia di Spineto in the vicinity of Sarteano.
Dr. Scott Horowitz, NASA Assistant Administrator for Exploration Systems, delivered the keynote speech emphasizing the international dimension of space activities, which he experienced himself as a Space Shuttle crewmember.
The beautiful Tuscan countryside provided the setting for an intense three-day discussion on the current and future space exploration plans of major space agencies worldwide, and how best to tackle the issue of international cooperation which is regarded as a key element by all parties involved in long-term space exploration activities.
"Since we held the first Spineto Workshop last year," said Daniel Sacotte "the plans of all major players have evolved and have become firmer and clearer. The time is therefore right to advance on the issue of global cooperation".
The ESA/ASI workshop follows an event organised by NASA in Washington D.C., in the United States, at the end of April, mainly focused on lunar exploration, and is part of series of international events that will occur throughout the coming months dwelling on the international dimension of space exploration. The two workshops have shown that talks among international partners are intensifying to come to the establishment of a global strategy.
"An international community with a shared vision and common objectives is coming together through these events," emphasised Simona Di Pippo. "This community will be instrumental both in supporting domestic space exploration plans and to work jointly to establish a globally accepted space exploration strategy".
The event was organised around a first plenary day where representatives from space agencies shared their updated plans and strategies for the human and robotic exploration of the Solar System, in particular the Moon and Mars. Senior non-governmental experts also presented some international cooperation examples and contributed to a lively roundtable discussion on the same subject.
The following day participants were divided in four splinter groups dealing with the following themes: space transportation, in-orbit infrastructure, surface infrastructure and automatic precursor missions.
The discussions converged on the need to foster international cooperation among interested nations in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of space exploration plans. "Activities linked to space exploration will return economic benefits and will provide answers about the origin and distribution of life in our Universe," noted Daniel Sacotte.
"We envisage a global reference architecture which allows all interested space agencies to fulfil their aspirations, and we believe that its establishment and its implementation will require structured international cooperation mechanisms," stated the two workshop hosts.
With this series of workshops, and the ongoing work in between, Europe proposes itself as a key player in the establishment of effective and inclusive relations among nations with an interest in the exploration of the Solar System.
This workshop, the follow up for which has already been announced by ESA and ASI for end May 2007, marks the start of an intense period of consultation and discussions among international players that will result in the global strategy and later in the reference global architecture mentioned above.
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