(ScientificAmerican) The European Space Agency (ESA) has secured a massive boost to its budget that includes the design of Europe’s first quantum satellite, SAGA — which will form part of a wider European quantum-communication network.
SAGA Quantum Satellite Part of ESA’s €12.5 Billion for 2020-22
At a pow-wow of European ministers in Seville, Spain, on 27–28 November, the agency’s member states pledged €12.5 billion (US$13.8 billion) for 2020–22, compared with the €8.6 billion approved at the last meeting in 2016. “For me it’s a surprise. It is even more than I proposed,” ESA director-general Jan Wörner told journalists at a press briefing after the event. Although ministers have not yet provided a detailed breakdown of the upcoming budget, Wörner said that they had pledged a 10% hike for ESA’s basic-science projects — smaller than the overall increase, but still the biggest rise in 25 years. Science funding at the agency had stagnated and failed to keep pace with inflation. “After a long period, we got this increase, and I am very grateful,” said Wörner.