JJust before the European Space Summit, which was held on November 6 and 7 in Seville, space observers were feverish. At the end of this meeting, we can still be, but with a certain relief all the same. Negotiated with diplomatic forceps, an agreement was reached between Italy, France and Germany regarding the financing of Ariane-6the European launcher whose design was initiated almost ten years ago and which has still not taken off.
A more than unfortunate delay in ignition, while Europe no longer has any autonomous access to space since the premature retirement of Ariane-5, the departure of Soyuz and Russian engineers from the territory European following the invasion of Ukraine, and the technical failures of Vega-C. At the same time, none of the orbital launchers of the new European space players are really operational. Without the help of SpaceX, space Europe would be completely grounded.
However, it must be believed that this temporary loss of access to space reminded European States of the importance that space technologies, services and applications have today, both for security and defense and for economy, environment or scientific research. With this agreement on launchers, European space history can continue, at least in part. Because not all the questions were resolved in Seville: space Europe – both the Member States as well as the European Space Agency and the Brussels Commission – must ask itself the question of its positioning, its identity, even its survival.
A global political and strategic vision
The European summit debates focused mainly on the economy and industrial policy. It’s true, European space is based on a high-level industry, populated by established and emerging players. The economic questions that must be asked of space Europe are legion: application of the rules of geographical return, cost sharing, competitiveness of services, resilience and security of supply chains for raw materials, components and critical technologies, competition between sectors nationally and with other parts of the globe, etc.
But the transformation of the European space economic model, which many stakeholders are calling for, can only happen if we understand that space is not limited to industrial policies and economic issues alone: these must be supported. through a global, clear and ertive political and strategic vision, which will enable the development of a healthy, efficient and prosperous European space ecosystem, for the benefit of European access to space, but also of all the players who depend on it directly or indirectly .
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