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European Space Policy Leaders Urge Coordination Of Space Programs With Defense Needs

By | September 29, 2008

      The European Space Council urged greater coordination between civil and defense programs.

      Europeans called for further dialogue on the issue, including the European Space Agency as a participant.

      The Europeans also declared a need for greater space situational awareness, saying it should be discussed by European ministers at a session in November.

      "This program will set the basis towards the development of a European capability for the monitoring and surveillance of the space infrastructure of Europe and of space debris," the Europeans stated.

      A resolution at the meeting addressed the need to strengthen existing mechanisms for coordinating European expertise and investments in space, as well as to set up mechanisms to improve synergies between civil and defense space programs, respecting the specific requirements of both sectors, including their decision-making competences and finance schemes.

      Further, at a meeting in Brussels, European leaders on the Space Council urged further progress in the Galileo program, the European version of the U.S.-led global positioning system, and in Kopernikus, an earth observation satellite system.

      As well, the Europeans raised the issue of paying for the program.

      The Space Council cited a need to draw up a plan for sustainable operational funding for Kopernikus, and welcomed the proposal by the European Commission to start this with a new preparatory action in preliminary budgets for next year.

      The ESA will submit to European ministers a proposal for the subscription of the second segment of the Kopernikus Space Component that will make it possible to complete the development of most of the initial series of Sentinel satellites.

      While the United States already has created the Global Positioning System, or GPS, Europeans have watched as China demolished one of its own weather satellites with a ground- based interceptor missile, and disabled a U.S. military satellite with a ground-based laser.

      Some military analysts predict China might demolish U.S. satellites, including the GPS system, just before China launches its promised invasion of Taiwan. Hitting U.S. satellites might delay any U.S. response to aid Taiwan.

      Regarding horizontal, cross-cutting aspects of the European Space Policy, the Space Council identified the need to further promote international cooperation in such domains as Solar System exploration, Earth environment and sustainable development.

      The Europeans also called for development of services that seamlessly integrate navigation, observation and communication satellite systems and combine them with terrestrial networks will be promoted and accelerated.

      On space exploration, in the wake of ESA’s successful Columbus and Automated Transfer Vehicle missions to the International Space Station, the Space Council affirmed that Europe is committed to playing a significant role in the international enterprise to explore the solar system and to develop a deep understanding of the conditions required for life to prosper beyond our planet. It welcomed the European Commission proposal to organize a high level political conference, opening a public debate on the role that Europe ought to play in the pursuit of the long-term global vision for space exploration.

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