Europe to Strengthen Position in Space Under New Strategy
By Ewa Krukowska
- EU adopts plan to boost space industry’s competitiveness
- EU Commission seeks to encourage use of data by companies
The European Union has adopted a plan to keep a leading place in the increasingly competitive global space industry by encouraging companies to make use of its cutting-edge satellite data set to become indispensable in areas from producing driverless cars to monitoring climate change.
The European Commission, the regulatory arm of the 28-nation EU, wants to promote the creation of industrial space hubs and help start-ups gain a foothold in the region’s space industry. The Space Strategy for Europe also highlights the need for the region to develop autonomous access to space through building its own launchers.
“Space matters for Europe; each euro invested in space brings back 7 euros,” EU Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska said. “Public finance is there. With this strategy we want to attract and foster greater involvement of the private sector.”
Europe has earmarked 12 billion euros for high-quality space projects in 2014-2020. Its Copernicus Earth-observation program provides data used to better manage crops, conduct search-and-rescue operations and respond to natural disasters. The Galileo global satellite navigation system is set to improve positioning and timing information for driverless cars, railways and planes.
The commission estimates that around 6 percent of the EU’s gross domestic product depends on space technologies, including global positioning systems and navigation. With the new strategy, the bloc wants to move from developing infrastructure to encouraging companies to use the data, crunch the numbers and turn their knowledge into profit.
“The EU is a key player in space policy,” said Maros Sefcovic, commission’s vice president for energy union. “We want to build on that and use this leadership role strategically to create jobs and growth and deliver on our common policy priorities.”
US, China Silent on Space Talks
The United States and China appear to be keeping an unusually low profile as they push for more dialogue and cooperation on space exploration.
The State Department hosted a new round of space cooperation talks in Washington last week with a delegation led by China’s National Space Administration (CNSA), but US officials didn’t publicly announce the meeting until Monday, via a tersely worded press release that said a third round of civil space dialogue would be held in China next year.
CNSA has yet to make any public mention of the talks, which included Pentagon officials and representatives from NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Geological Survey.
In the United States, cooperation with China’s space agencies is a sensitive topic. US law prohibits NASA from working with CNSA on manned space programs, and the US military is concerned that cooperation with China’s space sector would help China improve its ability to threaten US space assets.
NASA officials, however, have called on Congress to lift the ban, calling US-China space cooperation a logistical imperative.
Testifying on Capitol Hill last month, experts from four Washington think tanks and research institutions warned that China’s space and military sectors are closely linked. They also urged the US space sector to be very careful in trying to cooperate with China’s aerospace agencies.
The State Department said Monday that US-China space dialogue and cooperation could promote responsible behavior in space by the two countries and enhance transparency of human space activities.
Asked to discuss the space cooperation talks in further detail, neither State Department nor Pentagon officials had responded to requests for comments by late Tuesday.
This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Mandarin service.
Source: VOA News
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