Space and security
Security is one of the key interests of Europe and its citizens. Crisis prevention and management - be it conducted under the Common Security and Defence Policy or within other frameworks like the UN - are essential to support security, stability and prosperity in Europe. Space-based assets and systems are critical to ensure security on Earth (security from space) and these assets and systems need to be protected (security of space).
Space and security form an integral part of a comprehensive and coherent European Space Policy.
Security from space
Space-based systems are making an increasingly important contribution to the security of Europe, and to the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), in particular. Europe faces constantly evolving security threats that are now more diverse, less visible and less predictable than in previous decades. Europe needs therefore to have access to the best affordable capabilities for autonomous political assessment, sound decision-making, prevention policies and the effective conduct of actions. Space assets provide a significant contribution to confronting these threats through global monitoring, communication and positioning capabilities.
Copernicus services can make an important contribution to the security needs of the EU and its Member States. Its applications will focus further on the security dimension encompassing such aspects as emergency response, global stability and homeland security by contributing to e.g. maritime surveillance and border control up to food security worldwide.
The Galileo global navigation satellite system will also be of utmost importance to safeguard Europe's interests.
- European External Action Service
- European Security and Defence Policy
- European Defence Agency
- European Commission, DG Enterprise and Industry - Copernicus
- European Commission, DG Enterprise and Industry - Galileo
- European Space Agency
Security of space
Satellites are essential for our economy and our well-being. They need therefore to be protected from collision with other satellites or 'space debris' (leftover materials from launch activities and obsolete space objects) and from 'space weather' phenomena (changes in environmental conditions such as the Earth magnetic field or radiation due to solar winds, 'space storms' made of particles or electromagnetic radiation).
Space products and services rely upon space infrastructure, which must be monitored and protected from threats to ensure a safe and uninterrupted service. Space debris now represent a major threat to European space activities. Collisions with debris of 1 cm or more – of which there will be 1 million by 2020 - can damage or destroy a satellite. Space weather can also cause major failures of instruments on board satellites and it can also severely damage ground-based systems, such as electrical power grids, and lead to blackouts causing significant economic damage. To protect Europe's satellites having information on the situation in space – referred to as Space Situational Awareness (SSA) is therefore important. The EU is actively involved in European efforts to develop a European SSA system to acquire and process such information and pass it on to satellite operators. On 28 February 2013 a proposal for an EU space surveillance and tracking (SST) support programme was introduced. The programme supports EU Member States' efforts in bringing together their existing capacities to set up and operate a European system for the surveillance and tracking of satellites and space debris. The system will provide services to alert satellite operators of collision risks, and public authorities of un-controlled re-entries.
- Press release and background MEMO
- Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing an EU space surveillance and tracking support programme
- Accompanying impact assessment summary and full report
The space debris problem and space weather phenomena are also addressed in a number of research projects funded under the EU's Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7) and future Horizon 2020 programme.
In parallel, ESA undertakes research and development activities in the framework of its SSA programme launched in 2009, and recently extended to until 2016.
The EU considers necessary to ensure greater security in outer space and believes a pragmatic and incremental process can assist in achieving this goal. The EU initiative for an International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities was launched at the end of 2008 as a means to achieve enhanced safety and security in outer space through the development and implementation of transparency and confidence-building measures.