Following the success of the European Space Conference that was held from 23-24 February, MEP Niklas Nienass in his recent article highlighted the main outcomes, such as boosting the international understanding and cooperation, as well as concerns for Europe’s space autonomy, namely the technological autonomy, providing that “I am convinced that Europe should play a leading role in space – as a strong voice for peace, freedom and research. We must be able to live up to this political claim with our own technology”.
Further, he drew special attention to the topic of sustainability, by welcoming the fact “that the industry is now proactively setting the tone here. I hope that in the future the general public will also become more aware of the importance of spaceflight in the fight against climate change“.
With regard to his topic at the conference, MEP Niklas Nienass stressed the importance for a European Space Law, which is needed for future technologies, and that a “secure legal framework will strengthen industry, including new companies in this sector“.
Moreover, he emphasized on the importance of the new planned European constellation IRIS2, stating that it has “real added value for citizens. This means secure communication in times of crisis and better internet coverage across Europe“.
Lastly, he mentioned that “the final vote on the constellation in plenary is planned for 14th February. I am very pleased that after hard negotiations we have a project on the table that I can recommend to my group for approval without reservation. However, I will continue to follow the project critically and will particularly advocate the involvement of SMEs and start-ups“.
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In an annual press conference on the year ahead, held on 23 January, ESA’s director-general Josef Aschbacher detailed a spate of technical and political challenges that are severely hampering Europe’s ability to launch satellites and other craft. Among these are the loss of European access to Russia’s Soyuz rockets, because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the European responses to it. “That means that as of mid this year, we do not have guaranteed access to space for use of our European launchers, and this is a huge problem for us, for all of us” Aschbacher said.
Vega-C and Ariane 6
In addition to the Russian freeze-out, ESA has suffered several technical launch failures since 2019, Aschbacher reminded the press. Last year, the inaugural flight of the Vega-C rocket went off without a hitch in July, but in December another Vega-C mission ended in failure and the destruction of the launcher after a sudden decrease in pressure, the cause of which is still being investigated.
Aschbacher said the agency was taking “several measures…to make sure we put everything on the management side on track to proceed and advance as quick as we can” with improving European access to space. As well as the work on Vega-C and Ariane 6, he said ESA would support the development of small, mini or micro-European launchers, capable of lofting payloads of up to one ton. ESA is exploring the use of a competition to launch payloads with such launchers, he said. But more generally on the transportation problems, he warned: “We need to really work on this to get back, to guarantee access to space for Europe again.”
According to latest news, Europe invests to space activities, given that ESA’s budget will be 16,9 billion euros, namely 17% more than the previous three-year budget.
Further, new programs are to be launched in the areas of exploration and satellite navigation, among others. Germany’s ESA contribution of 3.5 billion euros is higher than the previous contribution of 3.3 billion euros. Moreover, Germany remains the largest ESA contributor.
In addition to the newly approved annual ESA budget of approximately 5.6 billion euros, Europe will invest 2.1 billion euros through the EU budget and approximately 4 – 6 billion euros annually through the individual EU member states, for a total of around 11.7 – 13.7 billion euros. By comparison, the U.S. is spending 24 billion euros on NASA this year alone.
Based on this development, Mr. Niklas Nienass, MEP, commented that space is the sector of the future, while infrastructures in space are becoming extremely important for life on earth. Additionally, he stated that public and private investment is the chance for the forefront of space travel in the future. Furthermore, Niklas Nienass also recognized the German ESA contribution with regard to the budget increase as wise for the the beginning of Germany’s three-year presidency of the ESA Ministerial Council Conference.
You can find the presentation from ESA regarding the agreement here.
On 17 November, EU lawmakers reached a preliminary political agreement on the new European Satellite Constellation for Secure Connectivity. Alongside the Earth observation program Copernicus and the navigation program Galileo, IRIS will become the EU’s third strategic space infrastructure. It should be noted that IRIS will be a multi-orbital satellite constellation providing connectivity, making European infrastructure more resilient and independent of third parties.
MEP Niklas Nienass stated that “satellite-based communication services play an important role in case of crisis. That is why it is good that the EU will build up its own infrastructure.” Moreover, it was provided that the need is to “consciously use of small and medium-sized New-Space companies and their innovative strength”.
Please find more information about the IRIS EU Secure Satellite Constellation here.
The Space Traffic Management Dinner Debate will be held on the 9th of November and is part of Friends of Europe’s Making Space Matter initiative, in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA).
The race to space globally is crowding our planet’s orbit. Lower thresholds to enter the space means that more actors than ever before are competing to put their satellites into orbit. Private sector players, such as Bezos and Musk, are leading the way. In the absence of the ‘rules of the road’ in outer space, the congestion of space threatens the viability of infrastructure and operations. This is significant considering the security challenges and global geopolitical tensions that characterise the space race: the creation of space forces in China and the United States are two cases in point. Despite signs of political cooperation, notably between China and Europe, the default position in space is to protect national interests in an environment that is fundamentally uncertain and unpredictable. The overcrowding of space gives little room for errors and miscalculations, which in such a high-stake geopolitical context, can quickly escalate into open conflict.
In addition to the thousands of satellites operating under the watch of nation states, private companies and citizens, there are now over a million debris of at least 1cm orbiting around the Earth and threatening to damage space infrastructures and equipment.
The key role of the involvement of several actors like the Member States, significant stakeholders and close coordination between national and international government and commercial entities from the outset will support this path, concluding to an advanced policy framework, which is developing very slowly.
To this end, there is a need for a coherent set of technical and regulatory provisions that will ensure that the access, the activities and the return outer space are safe and sustainable.
Following the first Making Space Matter Summit, this invite-only dinner debate will look more closely at the importance of urgently tackling STM and the role that the EU plays at a global level.
After the landslide adoption of the position on the Secure Connectivity Programme in the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE), the Rapporteur GRUDLER (Renew) and Shadow Rapporteurs SALINI (EPP), HRISTOV (S&D), NIENAß (Greens/EFA) and TOŠENOVSKÝ (ECR) are ready for a swift negotiation regarding this new Programme.
MEPs send a strong signal with the adoption of their position on the Secure Connectivity Programme:
“Less than 7 months after its introduction by the European Commission, the European Parliament is now ready to engage in negotiations with the Council for an ambitious Programme, that should strongly reinforce the European strategic autonomy. If the ITRE Committee mandate for inter-institutional negotiations is not challenged, the European Parliament position will be considered as formally adopted next week during the plenary session in Strasbourg. After Copernicus (Earth Observation), Galileo/EGNOSS (Satellite Navigation), and Space Situational Awareness, it is high time for the European Union to build the 4th pillar of its space policy. We are committed to make it a success.”
The HORIZON R&D partnership, involving five industry organizations representing the whole supply chain, was launched in June 2021 along with other eleven research partnerships. However, long-standing strategic and political interests relating to space got in the way and Member States opposed the partnership. Following that, the Commission had to renegotiate.
This has resulted in a reduction of the scope, with the partnership now limited to the three areas of commercial telecoms, earth observation, and future space ecosystems.
What is more, the budget has been drastically reduced, from an initial €1.4 to €2 billion to €150 million for three years. With a new budget and smaller scope, partners now need to prepare a new strategic document for the partnership to replace the previous, more ambitious one, not an easy task though.
MEP Niklas Nienass recently expressed his opinion about the momentum the debate on the planned European megaconstellation (“Secure Connectivity System”) is gaining. His main concerns are focused, inter alia, in three points. In the first place, he mentioned his concern about the achievement of affordable prices as regards the satellite-based Internet to weak regions. Next, he pointed out his concentration on a substantive development of a European New Space Economy. Lastly, he stated his concern about the timeline, providing that 2027 instead of 2024 should allow the EU to accurately determine the actual needs of Member States and shape the development accordingly.
Find his full statement and his report from his trip to the USA here.
Friends of Europe’s Making Space Matter Summit in June 2022 will provide an alternative platform to discuss space matters and making space matter.
Space exploration, capacity, competition, infrastructure, and its role as a new market and security domain will prove to be defining issues for our planet over the next decade and beyond. Space has the potential to reap huge rewards for social good, progress in terms of our common digital future and ability to mitigate and manage the impact of climate change. Every aspect of our lives, and every policy, has the potential to be impacted by the way Europe and its partners approach the new questions of space. Satellites in particular, and the wider role of space as a new frontier of intelligence and real time situational awareness, will increasingly be an important facet of current crises and future conflicts.
The summit will take place on Monday, 20 June, from 10.45 – 18.00 in Brussels. We look forward to welcoming you.
The Co-chairs, Local Organising Committee and Programme Committee of the 7th World Conference on Research Integrity was pleased to welcome delegates to Cape Town in 2022!
The 7th World Conference on Research Integrity was held from 29 May – 1 June 2022. The theme of the Conference was “Fostering Research Integrity in an Unequal World”. The 7th WCRI was interesting and relevant to Research Integrity stakeholders across all disciplinary fields from the basic and applied natural and biomedical sciences to the humanities and social sciences. Important RI stakeholders included researchers, institutional leaders, national and international policymakers, funders and journals.
The discussion areas at the conference were focused to Research Integrity as a driver of research excellence and public trust, ethical best practice in authorship, publication and the use of research metricsas well as responding to research misconduct. Most notably, an additional emerging subtheme was referred to ensuring research integrity in the context of the 4th Industrial Revolution.
The Living Planet Symposium 2022 (LPS22) is taking place now in Bonn, Germany. The LPS22 is one of the largest conferences dedicated to Earth Observations (EO) in the world, and brings together thousand of scientists and users of EO data. This year, it focuses on 5 primordial objectives, one of which is to nurturing public and private sector partnerships, its importance, expanding the EO user base, and increase access to funding and commercialization opportunities. This is synergistic to Europlanet’s interest in incentivising academic and private sector collaborations. The other five objectives are: understanding earth systems (climate and interactions), advancing future technology for EO missions (new era of observations instruments), enabling the digital transformation (data collection, processing, distribution and analysis), and supporting the green transition (for sustainable development).
You can find more information on this exciting symposium at: https://lps22.esa.int/frontend/index.php
The report of the final outcome of the Conference on the Future of Europe, including 49 proposals, was presented on 9 May 2022. The proposals reflect the expectations of European citizens on important topics, which also aims to provide an overview of the various activities undertaken during the Conference. The Conference has constituted an unprecedented experience of transnational deliberative democracy. It has also proven its historical relevance and importance in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian aggression of Ukraine. The three institutions are ought to examine how to follow up effectively on this report, in accordance with their competencies and the treaties.