16th ESPI Autumn Conference

11 - 12 October 2022 Urania, Vienna, Austria

By: Veronika Ruskova

The 16th ESPI Autumn Conference took place in person at the Urania Observatory in Vienna, Austria on October 11 and 12, 2022, following two years of online and hybrid conferences. Participants from over 20 countries interacted throughout the course of the two days through panel discussions and special networking activities.

There were three panels and several keynote addresses throughout the conference that addressed the selected topic of “Space Economy and Commerce: The Way Ahead for Europe.” In addition to the private sector participants (businesses, investors, entrepreneurs), 30% are public sector participants (space agencies, innovation agencies, ministries), and 20% are academics, demonstrating the growing importance and interest of private players today.

The conference examined how goals and public policy frameworks and goals may most effectively capitalize on and build upon the impetus that commercial solutions are giving to European space operations, all while enabling continued European leadership on international markets.

The event opened with opening remarks by the new ESPI Director, who emphasized European ambition and objectives in the space sector. Throughout the event, several significant issues facing Europe were brought forward. These discussed the current state of commercialization of the space sector, acceleration, and the future role of Europe in space commerce.

The first panel addressed the undergoing profound changes in the European space ecosystem. These adjustments, which range from new business models like “space as a service” to vertical integration, are nested within wider market, economic, and technological developments that are influencing the direction of the economy. The space industry is evolving quickly as a result of this paradigm change, and the stakes have never been higher for space enterprises. The first panel explored major topics to watch by 2050 and examined current developments in the European commercial space industry.

The second session emphasized how both public and private sector entities have advanced space commercialization. This panel discussed policy options and the amount of interest in more business involvement in the creation and execution of space programs. The panelists spoke on useful instruments, suitable procedures, and reimagined partnerships to accelerate the development of self-sustaining markets through heightened competition, reimagined business models, and reliable regulatory backing.

Special guest Kevin O’Connell, who served as the Director of the Office of Space Commerce at the US Department of Commerce, provided opening remarks at the start of the Conference’s evening event. The evening event provided another opportunity for attendees and panelists to interact, discuss and network.

Finally, panelists explored how the space industry is essential to tackling the ongoing issue of Europe’s ambition in a global setting at the conference’s concluding session on day two. The panel analyzed the role of commercial solutions in examining avenues to promote technical innovation and industrial leadership while also stepping back and embracing concomitantly relevant issues of autonomy, sustainability, and resilience confronting Europe.

Over the span of the event, key challenges in Europe were highlighted in order to identify which issues should be addressed through policies on the horizon of Europe’s future in the commercialization of space, visualized in the graphic.

The key takeaways identified pertained to various topics including: European ambition and objectives, the building on European space heritage while leveraging change, space as a key enabler of growth across different industry verticals, as well as mobilizing forces within a multi-stakeholder environment. You can find the full document of the 16th Autumn Conference Key takeaways here.


In October 2023 we look forward to welcoming you to our 17th Autumn Conference, featuring the topic of: “Space governance: public and private objectives in a multi-stakeholder environment.”

Check out the wrap-up video and photos of the 16th Autumn Conference below!


Video produced by Veronika Ruskova
ESPI team (left to right): Mathieu Bataille, Lina Pohl, Clémence Poirier, Jules Varma, Gabriele Redigonda, Mateusz Walczak, Veronika Ruskova, Matija Rencelj, Evelyn Obernosterer-Egger, Ludwig Moeller, Daniel Leichte, Lena Koeck, João Falcão Serra, Marco Aliberti, Marco Tomassetti, Sara Dalledonne, Tomas Hrozensky, Petra Walter, Reza Rezaie.


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