Space as an Asset

Securing Europe’s Ability to Decide and Act

As recognised by the UN Secretary General’s Our Common Agenda, while space assets have ‘transformed the way we live and outer space systems are vital for understanding and solving global problems’, the outer space environment is confronted by new risks to security, safety and sustainability.

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) states have registered radio frequencies for the launch of over 1 million satellites by 2029. Currently less than 10,000 satellites orbit our planet. This creates unprecedented challenges for policymakers and regulators alike, while also creating opportunities for businesses and national economies to scale benefits unlocked by space data and services. To do so it is critical to ensure Europe can autonomously access, operate in and protect space, while having a strong voice in global governance discussions and diplomatic engagements.

This research theme covers:

  • The infrastructure and capabilities required for access to space, launchers, spaceports and ground It includes the orbits and spectrum required by space missions as a pre-requisite to fulfil their purpose.
  • What is needed to ensure that the space environment can be used in a safe and sustainable manner. This includes space safety including Space Situational Awareness (SSA), Space Traffic Management (STM), space weather and long-term sustainability of space activities (addressing also debris generation, mitigation and removal).
  • The legal, regulatory and programmatic frameworks of space activities at the national, European and international levels, including:
    • National space laws, regulations and programmes,
    • European space governance,
    • International Space Governance (including international rule-setting in UN and other frameworks).

In order to better support the foundations required for Europe’s ability to decide and act, ESPI research will support:

  • The development of a competitive launch sector, driven by demand from institutional missions as anchor customers as well as stimulated by European demand from commercial missions, to ensure business plans are attractive to financial markets and allowing economically sustainable operation.
  • The progress related to orbits and spectrum utilisation via its ITU
  • Efforts related to SSA, STM, space weather, debris, including as part of its Centre of Excellence for Space and
  • Legal frameworks, which regulate space activities whilst stimulating private investment into space as an asset and into space missions by reducing risk.

ESPI will promote the awareness of European decision-makers and citizens to help them understand the grave implications that the inability of Europe to access, protect and regulate space would bring and the losses that would ensue for future generations. This would effectively remove the foundations required by any space mission to fulfil its purpose and cancels out Europe’s voice in later discussions on the future of space and on outer space governance.

Recent Work Space as an Asset

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