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  • Europe's ambitions for space

    - Just after the deception of Schiaparelli’s failed landing at Mars, the European Commission presents a new space strategy for the period of 2017-2020. “The overall international space context is changing fast: competition is increasing; new entrants are bringing challenges and new ambitions in space.”

    In the new strategy the European Commission presented last week, successes like the Rosetta Mission with Philae landing on comet Chury are being celebrated. The EC acknowledges that “space technologies, data and services have become indispensable in the daily lives of European citizens,” for example in using mobile phones as well as in the early detection of floods and earthquakes.

    Pushing the boundaries of science and research

    The European Commission sees space technology as an important asset for the strategy of Europe. “It reinforces Europe’s role as a stronger global player and is an asset for its security and defence. Space policy can help boost jobs, growth and investments in Europe. Investing in space pushes the boundaries of science and research.”

    As new commercial players like Elon Musk also show ambitions in space, it is important for Europe “to  work together to promote its position as a leader in space, increase its share on the world space markets, and seize the benefits and opportunities offered by space.”

    In achieving and maintaining this position, the European Commission has formulated several actions:

    The European Commission will “together with Member States and industry, promote the efficient and demand-driven use of satellite communications, so as to foster ubiquitous connectivity in all Member States” and it will “stimulate the development of space applications with a greater involvement of new actors from different domains.”

    Support for entrepeneurships

    New EU space programmes will address “emerging needs related, in particular, to climate change/sustainable development and security and defence.” In order to stay a competitive global player  the Commission will “step up its efforts to support space R&D activities, in cooperation with Member States and ESA, and review its strategic approach to boosting these competitiveness.”

    Europe does not aim to compete with private parties as it will give room to entrepreneurs, the strategy writes. The Commission will “step up support to space entrepreneurs through EU funding programmes to facilitate further financing of investments in the space sector.” This also include support for start-ups.

    The Commission argues this cannot be accomplished if Member States do not cooperate. “The potential of space for Europe and the world is enormous. Europe faces huge global challenges which require global responses. Europe must contribute to this collective responsibility. No single Member State can do this alone. The EU, alongside its Member States and ESA, must act as a global stakeholder to promote and preserve the use of space for future generations.”

    You can read the Space Strategy for Europe here (PDF)