Exploring Together - Opportunities, Challenges, and the Role of ISECG in Engaging Emerging Space Agencies
As the new era of space exploration unfolds, an increasing number of space agencies worldwide are becoming engaged in space exploration. This is evidenced by the dramatic expansion in the membership of the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG), an inter-agency coordination forum created in 2007 to advance individual and collective efforts in space exploration. In January 2018, ISECG produced the third edition of the Global Exploration Roadmap (GER), which captured a shared vision for human and robotic space exploration of 15 members agencies. Since then, ISECG membership has steadily increased, and many space agencies have renewed their focus on the Moon. These circumstances created an opportunity for ISECG to release, in August 2020, the Lunar Surface Exploration Scenario Update as a supplement to GER. This document, produced by 24 member agencies, laid out the latest mission scenario and architecture for human and robotic lunar surface missions, integrating renewed and emerging national plans and commercial capabilities among ISECG participating countries. As of today, ISECG has 26 member agencies.
The growing endeavors and participation by emerging agencies in space exploration mean that more countries, including their industry and citizens, would contribute to and benefit from space exploration. The increased opportunities arising from the enlarged programs of established agencies, availability of commercial transportation services and other capabilities, sharing of scientific data, and lower entry-to-barrier technologies such as cubesat are opening new possibilities for the emerging agencies. On the other hand, these agencies' added missions and investments could complement those of established agencies and create business opportunities for industries, contributing to the creation of sustainable global space exploration. However, it is also true that the emerging agencies are faced with technological, budgetary, and institutional challenges. Given the limited resources and expertise, it is not easy for the emerging agencies to carry out programs or missions of their own or to determine how best they could contribute to the global exploration effort in a coordinated manner.
This plenary session will bring together both established and emerging space agencies of ISECG to discuss these topics. The first part of the session will introduce the GER Supplement to highlights the growing global momentum in lunar exploration and present ISECG's shared vision and objectives and its approach towards the sustainable exploration of the Moon and preparation for human missions to Mars. Agencies will discuss the values of having a common scenario and architecture and explain how they aim to achieve their goals within the coordinated framework. The second part of the session will address challenges and opportunities for the emerging space agencies and the role of ISECG in fostering their participation in the global exploration. The discussion will focus on how synergies could be created between and among emerging and established space agencies and how the private sector capabilities could be leveraged in order to advance the global exploration community's common goals and object.