Brussels (Brussels Morning) The EU’s 13th space conference takes place nearly a month after it first presented its space programme, today and tomorrow. It is expected to set the tone for future space initiatives, including how space applications could help the Union amidst its green and digital transition.
The paid conference will see key players in the European space field gather, addressed by the high-representative Josep Borrell and research and innovation commissioner Mariya Gabriel, speaking on defence and space applications and research and European space competitiveness.
Commissioner Thierry Breton will talk about the EU space programme’s contribution towards the twin transition — green and digital.
Other discussions to take place will center on the importance of space in the European and National Recovery Plans, securing public telecommunications in Europe and the significance of resilience and critical value chains.
EU officials are also anticipated to look ahead in discussions around space exploration and international space cooperation.
Only last year in October, were Italy and the UK among the eight nations that signed the Artemis Accords, a set of principles governing likely participants in the Artemis lunar exploration program, announced by NASA in May 2020.
Breton’s “EU Space Power”
On 9 December, Commissioner Breton described the space programme as a “fast changing landscape”, outlining the EU’s next steps in this arena.
“Innovation cycles are shortening. New private actors are emerging — bringing with them new concepts, new business models and disruptive technologies”, wrote Breton on his Linkedin profile.
The internal market commissioner said that secure connectivity and quantum encryption are among the expected outputs from space applications.
“Low earth orbit constellations will allow Europe to benefit from space-based high-speed connectivity everywhere, complementary to other technologies (fibre and 5G).
“It would also project Europe into the quantum encryption area, certainly the most important technological breakthrough to come”, added Breton.
Developing space traffic management is also an ambition defended by the Commission. “Thanks to the Space Surveillance and Tracking framework, which protects already 148 European satellites from collision, we have strong building blocks to be ambitious”, said Breton.
EU space programme
On 16 December 2020, the Parliament and EU member states reached a political agreement on the EU space programme law.
It was decided that the EU space programme would bring all existing and new space activities under the umbrella of a single programme.
With a 13.202 billion euros budget agreed by the co-legislators, the EU space programme is expected to develop further the current European flagship programmes — Copernicus for earth observation and Galileo and EGNOS for satellite navigation.
It will also enable the launching of European initiatives in satellite communication (GOVSATCOM) and on Space Situational Awareness (SSA) to protect space infrastructure from space debris.
In short, with the budget secured under the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for the next seven years, the Commission will focus on operating and developing further European space flagships, namely Galileo, the European global satellite-based navigation system and Copernicus, the EU’s Earth observation programme.