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Small missions - A new exploration initiative for small countries

ESA has a new initiative in the planning: Small Missions that will offer a programmatic opportunity for small and medium countries to become more visible in the implementation of ESA’s exploration strategy. The initiative is planned to be launched in September 2023 and will have a short deadline.

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The exploration strategy of the European Space Agency, ESA has the objective to lead Europe’s human journey into the Solar System using robots as precursors and scouts, and to return the benefits of exploration back to society.

Small missions can contribute to the implementation of the goals of ESA’s Terrae Novae roadmap and in particular:

  • Increase scientific knowledge of the Moon and Mars and to use Low Earth Orbit for scientific research
  • Close technology gaps in areas relevant to exploration such as power, surface mobility, propulsion, ISRU, and entry, descent and landing technologies needed for future missions and exploration infrastructure
  • Prepare elements on the critical path leading to the horizon goal of Europeans to Mars
  • Stimulate the development of new exploration services with applications from Earth orbit to Moon and Mars
  • Create new international and business partnerships
  • Enable inspiring opportunities to engage the general public and/or facilitate training of skilled new professional staff working in space exploration
  • Ideas for small missions will therefore be evaluated on the basis of how they answer to the different exploration objectives that could include knowledge increase (science), technical and economic innovation, international cooperation and inspiration.

Small missions could play an important role in preparing the way for larger Exploration missions

ESA plans for the Small missions initiative to be launched in September 2023. The deadline is expected to be quite short. Therefore, potential interested stakeholders should already now consider how to write a proposal.

More information can be obtained from the secretariat of the Space Exploration Denmark Partnership.


Peter Mandix Sehestedt
Tlf.: +45 72 31 82 02
Email: pse@ufm.dk
Cecilie Tornøe
Tlf.: +45 72 31 82 84
Email: ct@ufm.dk