ESA Ministerial Council: Making Europe a Leader in Space

The ESA Ministerial Council at the end of November lays the foundations for the future of European space. The right steps must be taken to strengthen Europe's leading role in space. Because only those who are up there can play a role down here.

Space is synonymous with innovation, progress and sustainability. It is of utmost importance for the future of Europe because modern life is increasingly dependent on space technology. A day without space technology would take us back to the 1950s. This is unfathomable because solutions to our most urgent problems heavily rely on it.

Progress in the midst of growing competition

Europe has achieved much in space, and Airbus has made significant contributions to this over the past fifty years: from development and manufacture of the European launch vehicle and numerous climate and weather observation satellites to co-development of the Galileo navigation system. All this ensures Europe's sovereignty in space.

Europe now has the opportunity to continue its space success story. The EU, the Member States and the European Space Agency (ESA) will face new challenges to achieve this. International competition in space is intensifying and the US, China, India and others are increasingly investing in space.

Strengthen space now

Sentinel 6 will map the surface of the oceans to help predict rises in sea levels

In view of the central role of space for Europe's future, space must be significantly strengthened at the upcoming ESA Ministerial Council. Europe's independent access to space must be ensured. This can only be achieved with the market launch of the Ariane 6 launch vehicles.

As the biggest provider of Earth observation data in the world, Copernicus is vital to the future of our planet. This is why it is so important that the Copernicus Expansion missions are given sufficient support.

The science programme must also be strengthened. It investigates regions of our universe that have previously been inaccessible and thus enables important advances in research. This means that new missions must also be shaped. Ground-breaking ventures such as the Athena X-ray observatory, exploration of Mars and the Lisa mission which will measure gravitational waves are indispensable for future space, as is the US-European Orion crewed space vehicle which must be continued.

Space technology today helps us tackle the pressing questions of tomorrow. To broaden its horizons, the European space sector needs to be digitalised. This includes the security dimension of blockchain and quantum technologies. Because only secure space technology is good space technology. New digital revolutions must be fully integrated into European space programmes and there should be greater support for application and technology programmes. There should also be greater support for application and technology programmes.

In addition, space research must utilise and acknowledge the dual-use nature of the technology. This requires developing a long-term visionary roadmap and a dynamic governance approach to enable private players to play a stronger role in space.

Seize the opportunity

Europe can strengthen its leadership in space. The foundations have been laid. In November, the ESA Member States have a great opportunity to set the course towards a successful European space future. Europe's technological leadership ensures prosperity, democracy and security in the 21st century.

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