The head of the European Space Agency (ESA) told EURACTIV at the launch of the EU’s new space program that Europe must play a role in leading the sustainability of outer space and can increasingly contribute to the establishment of a space regulatory framework.
Space exploration and development have traditionally been the domain of Americans and Russians. It can be said that the EU’s new interest in space policy has nothing to do with the economic advantages it provides, but with strategic autonomy.
The establishment of a new branch in the European Commission-the Defense Industry and Space Agency (DEFIS), which has long been resisted by the United Kingdom-is the latest attempt to brand the European brand in this emerging field.
The Director-General of ESA, Josef Aschbacher, said: “Europe must play a role in leading the sustainable development of outer space, just like Europe is leading the sustainable development of the earth’s surface,” he added, adding that he looks forward to the EU The committee takes leadership on this issue.
At present, only weak legislation forms the basis of international space law, namely the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which stipulates that all countries can freely explore and use space, but no country can claim sovereignty over outer space or any other right. Celestial bodies or place weapons in the void.
Aschbach said: “At present, there are some’Wild West’ situations in space. All countries are launching satellites, but there is almost no regulatory framework for what happens to them and what happens with them.”
When asked whether Europe, as a major regulatory power, can take the lead in changing this, the head of ESA stated that “Europe should play a very active role in space regulation.”
“Among countries, Europe has a fairly complete regulation, and in the space sector, we have a need for it, especially in space management,” Aschbach said.
He emphasized that the number of satellites launched in 2020 alone will be the same as that of the entire past decade. Although Europe has only launched a small number of satellites, this will generate better coordination needs.
“The countries where these private launch companies are located are responsible because they provide licenses for launches and related frequencies, and we must ensure that supervision starts at this time,” he added.
Recently, with the continued militarization of space, EU policymakers have also begun to abandon plans to link European civilian space assets with defense elements.
When asked if he is worried about the increasing security of outer space, Aschbach said that one “must see what other people are doing in space, and then figure out what interests you in this global context.”
“Space is not European, it is not Chinese, it is not American-of course, it is global,” he added.
New EU Space Program
Before Aschbach’s comments, ESA and the EU signed a cooperation agreement on Tuesday (June 22) to commemorate the official launch of the EU’s new space program, which aims to deepen member states’ efforts in satellite navigation, Earth observation, space situational awareness, and secure communications.
According to the agreement, the EU will allocate nearly 9 billion euros to ESA and European industry in 2021-2027 for the design of new generation systems and plans.
The EU’s funding in the next budget period will include the development of the next-generation European satellite navigation system Galileo, and the expansion of the range and capabilities of its Copernicus-Sentinel Earth Observation Spacecraft.
The new funding for Galileo, a European civilian global satellite navigation system, aims to support the European Union’s ambitions to develop navigation services for autonomous vehicles or autonomous drones.
Copernicus will become the world’s largest free and open earth observation data provider, which will be used to monitor climate change and help the European Union achieve its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“Space is undergoing large-scale transformation and rapid industrialization all over the world,” industry commissioner Thierry Breton said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“In order for Europe to stay ahead, we must rethink the way we develop space in Europe. We must adapt to rapid development and anticipate new developments, and we must formulate an ambitious and disruptive space agenda for the future: more dynamic , More innovative and more adventurous,” he added.
Aschbach described the new plan as “a major achievement of ESA, recognized for its outstanding scientific and technical expertise in designing space systems and ground facilities for European citizens.”
According to him, enhanced cooperation will bring about “new ambitions in European space.”
Ashbach also proposed to hold a special summit next year to try to determine the level of European space ambitions.
The agreement on the Financial Framework Partnership Agreement (FFPA) also specifies the roles and responsibilities of all partners, including the European Commission, ESA and the new EU space program agency EUSPA, which will oversee the EU’s activities in space policy .
ESA said in a statement: “It will also ensure the level of autonomy of ESA, which is necessary for the effective development and implementation of these plans.”
Such clarification is needed because the EU and ESA are independent entities with different membership levels, and the latter is open to non-EU countries such as the United Kingdom.
This transaction-officially signed at the end of April-will only be possible after the United Kingdom voted on the document at the European Aerospace Ministers’ Meeting last week. Previously, non-EU nationals were discriminated against in work and intellectual property rights in project research and development. Two red lines were drawn up to be respected.
After the United Kingdom decided to leave the European Union, as part of the agreement is still being worked out, the negotiation of security arrangements between the European Union and the United Kingdom has not been completed, which may become a stumbling block for further space cooperation between London and Brussels. Negotiations after Brexit.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]