The European Space Agency announced Monday it would hold a competition between firms to build a ship to deliver cargo to the International Space Station, in a potential first step towards independent missions carrying astronauts.
The summit comes at a difficult time for European space efforts, as the Ariane 6 delays have left the continent without a way to independently blast its missions into space.
ESA chief Josef Aschbacher told the summit that "a new economy is developing in low Earth orbit that will transform space exploration," adding that "private companies are revolutionising the landscape from launchers to exploration".
Aschbacher proposed "a competition between innovative European companies" to develop a ship that would transport cargo to the ISS by 2028 -- then bring it back to Earth.
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