Thursday, January 19, 2012

ExoMars and Budgets Update

Space News today had an article on the evolving politics of the ExoMars mission from the European side.  According the the article, "CNES [the French space agency] President Yannick d’Escatha said both the ExoMars program and the space station budget will be on the table for European ministers when they meet in November to set multiyear space budget and program priorities."  The article reports that European nations have committed only 850M euros of the 1B euros required for the European portion of this joint mission with NASA.  One idea to lower the European costs, dropping the demonstration lander, was proposed by France but rejected by Italy.  The article suggests that France as well as other nations may be wavering in their support for the ExoMars mission.

There has been no news on NASA's commitment to the ExoMars mission, pending the release of the President's FY13 budget proposal next month.  That budget will also determine how funding for the Webb Space Telescope will impact NASA's planetary program.  

Several recent articles have discussed how difficult it will be to fund new flagship missions.  While the emphasis is on astronomy missions, the same issues likely  will apply to flagship planetary missions.  I recommend Big science in an era of tight budgets.

Editorial Thoughts: The impacts of the continuing financial downturn are still being felt.  NASA's budget proposal to be released next month will be the first to follow the release of the Decadal Survey and the commitment to the higher funding needed to complete the James Webb Space Telescope.  If the Decadal Survey laid out a vision, then the next budget will be the administration's response to that vision and the other competing priorities for NASA in an era of budget cutting.  The administration has promised to include its decision on NASA's participation in the ExoMars as part of that budget release.  I plan to release an analysis of the budget proposal the day it is released.

From the Space News article, it appears that the next opportunity to revisit ESA's commitments will come at the ministerial meeting next November.


  1. On the week of Jan. 9th, ESA went into a stand down with its interaction with NASA on the joint 2018 rover.

  2. Can you send me a link? I missed that.

  3. I enjoy reading your blog but it is hard to read sometimes. Could you experiment with font size/background color/ text color a bit to make it easier to read.