BRUSSELS — The head of the European Space Agency (ESA) says he plans to cut 25% of the agency’s internal spending by 2015 in response to the ongoing financial turmoil in Europe.
“We are taking into account the economic crisis,” ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain said of the 19-member intergovernmental agency during an annual space policy meeting here.
With a budget of €4 billion ($5.45 billion), ESA’s internal costs constitute €685 million per year, according to an ESA official, who says the agency plans across-the-board cuts for some internal functions while devising new methods of working with industrial partners that could be less costly in the future.
Dordain’s comments come exactly one year before ESA ministers are slated to set the agency’s multiyear budget. Despite Europe’s current economic turmoil, Dordain says ESA has deftly managed such crises in the past, noting that the agency’s last round of budget negotiations in 2008 also occurred during a time of financial upheaval.
“And, in spite of the financial crisis, the member states of ESA succeeded in committing more than €10 billion, and we have demonstrated during the last three years that we could manage these commitments of member states within their budget constraints,” Dordain says. “The economic crisis is not a good argument [for cutting space funding], or on the contrary should be a good argument to keep space a priority for future investments.”