Europe juggles ambitions, constraints in talks on space
PARIS (AFP) - Europe faces key decisions this week about its role in space, pondering plans for a new rocket and its involvement in the International Space Station at a time of money crunch.
Meeting in Naples on Tuesday and Wednesday, science ministers from the European Space Agency's (ESA) 20 member states will be asked to set a multi-year programme with billions of euros at stake for the highly successful space industry.
It will be the first top-level meeting by ESA in four years, a period whose achievements included the launch of the first satellites in Europe's rival to the US Global Positioning System (GPS).
But 2008 also marked the start of the financial crisis which now drags on many European economies, forcing governments almost everywhere to count the pennies.