Research and Development
The European Commission's Space Research and Development activities are coordinated within the framework of the overall European Space Policy, complementing the efforts of Member States and of other key players, including ESA.
The EU research programme for space
Over the period 2007-13, the EU invested €1.4 billion in research and innovation in the space sector through its research and development framework programme (the seventh framework programme - FP7). For the period 2014-2020, in Horizon 2020, the EU will invest €1.4 billion to support scientific excellence, contribute to tackling societal challenges, and promote industrial leadership and competitiveness.
Three components of space science are to be distinguished: 'science of space', 'science from space', and 'science in space'.
'Science of space’ tackles some fundamental questions about the origin of, and our place in, the Universe: How did the Universe begin? How did our Earth and our Solar System evolve? Where are other Earth-like planets? Is there life anywhere else? Through ESA's science programme, Europe has notably sent automatic spacecraft to study the Moon, Venus, Mars, Saturn’s Moon Titan, asteroids and comets. Moreover, astronomy and astrophysics spacecraft are scrutinising the Universe all the way back to its origin.
‘Science from space’ helps us to understand phenomena such as climate change and its consequences, as well as other environmental factors on Earth.
‘Science in space’ studies the effects of microgravity on humans, other living organisms but also new fields of research linked to physical sciences such as new materials etc.