Extract from a letter to the SPC
10 March 2004
I expect you all shared our joy at the ultimately very successful launch of Rosetta due to a close to flawless performance by Ariane 5 on 2 March. The excellent launch means that we should have some good asteroid options and thereby enhanced cruise science and I expect that the SWT will be pleased to make some choices on targets in the coming days.
Thanks also to those of you who have sent messages expressing your positive feelings to me and/or the team. Space is about teamwork and the Rosetta team (which probably runs into 1000's) has had a tough year to work through. Rosetta brings us to 14 spacecraft operating in space simultaneously, an unprecedented number. I hope that you all feel proud of your part in bringing this to be.
I am writing now to let you know why we have not put on the web the procedure for the Cosmic Vision 2025 planning process that we had scheduled would appear this week. The hold is due to the fact that the rapidly evolving situation requires that already at Council on 25-26 March the Executive begins setting down the plans for the mid-2005 Ministerial Conference. To this purpose, the Executive is preparing a document outlining the long-term plan for the Agency as a whole. This plan will treat activities like ours in the mandatory programme coherently with a proposed enhancement of inspirational exploration activities (Aurora and manned spaceflight) and utilitarian applications (telecommunications, GMES, etc.). Consequently, the proposal is also expected to open the door to some enhancement of the mandatory budget in the moderately near term. The document will be finalised and distributed this week. Evidently, pending the final document and the first reactions by Council, it would be premature for me to say more at this stage.
As concerns our own planning, we need to ensure that any community consultation on the Cosmic Vision 2025 mandatory programme is done coherently with consultations with the wider science community about proposals in the short term. I hope you will forgive us if we do not make any more precise announcement before hearing what the Council has to say towards the end of March.
We will proceed with planning the first discussions with the advisory structure in April.
Director of Science