To the Director General of ESA and representatives of ESA member states,

As scientists interested in space research, we would like to express our support to the Human and Robotic Exploration Programme (E3P).

The International Space Station (ISS) has been the greatest platform developed to conduct research in microgravity conditions at scale, and it is our hope it will continue to be that pivotal platform that guides and co-develops the evolution of the space landscape. The modernisation of this infrastructure to allow operations for the next decade will substantially benefit the microgravity research pathway. The experiments performed in the ISS and other microgravity platforms provide new knowledge for basic and applied science and technology for space exploration and on Earth.

Basic research carried out in microgravity and hypergravity conditions is essential to understand a large variety of phenomena in both physical and life sciences. In addition, research in different gravity environments is necessary for an efficient design of systems for the exploration of the Moon and Mars. In particular, the management of in-situ resources will require a good knowledge of the role played by gravity in the different exploration scenarios.

The current international situation, with several space agencies and private actors planning missions to the Moon, evidence a turning point for space exploration. Nations and agencies deciding now to prioritize this domain, will undoubtedly be in a leading position in the future of space exploration. We are convinced that ESA should have a centre stage role, both for driving the direction of space exploration and supporting the enablement of capability and capacity within the member states to realise the benefit to humankind.