In a move that screams “we’re trying, but not too hard,” European Space Agency members have collectively decided to dip their toes into the cosmic pool with a thrilling €75 million cargo mission. Hold on to your helmets, folks.
TLDR; Europe considers a pocket-friendly cargo mission to space, but don’t get too excited; it’s more of a celestial grocery run than an astronaut extravaganza.
Gather ’round, space enthusiasts and cosmic dreamers, as Europe tiptoes toward the final frontier with all the enthusiasm of a sloth on a caffeine withdrawal. At a recent meeting in Spain, the European Space Agency, composed of countries with varying levels of cosmic ambition (looking at you, Germany), begrudgingly agreed to throw a measly €75 million at a program that’s as bold as a kitten in zero gravity.
According to Thomas Dermine, Belgium’s space secretary (yes, apparently that’s a thing), the Germans aren’t exactly leading the charge here. In fact, they seem about as thrilled as a cat in a bathtub when it comes to splurging on a full-blown human spaceflight program. Instead, they’re more into plugging into existing initiatives, like that one time they contributed to a space capsule for NASA. Baby steps, Deutschland, baby steps.
Now, this grand endeavor involves a return cargo mission to the International Space Station by the end of 2028. Hold your horses; we’re not sending astronauts just yet. No, no. We’re making sure Europe can handle the basics first—transport, docking, and re-entry capabilities. Because, you know, we’ve been lacking in the “basic space stuff” department.
But fear not, dear readers, for there’s hope on the horizon. The cargo mission could, theoretically, evolve into a crewed vehicle for more ambitious missions. Just like your childhood dreams of becoming an astronaut evolved into a career in data entry.
And why stop there? Some brilliant minds (including a comic book artist, because why not?) suggested a moon mission to spice things up and distract from Europe’s rocket delays, which have transformed us from space superstars to Elon Musk’s awkward second cousin.
The plan? Mimic SpaceX’s success by letting interested parties figure out the best way to get things done. It’s like a cosmic potluck, where everyone brings a dish, and Europe hopes it doesn’t end up with the equivalent of space macaroni art.
In the end, the cargo program might be the spark Europe needs to reignite its cosmic ambitions. Or, it could be another entry in the cosmic hall of “Well, we tried.” Either way, buckle up—oh, wait, we said we wouldn’t use that phrase. Just get ready for the most lackluster space journey since your last attempt at stargazing through city lights.
Europe’s space odyssey: Because why shoot for the moon when you can aim for a mildly interesting cargo run?