The need for EU action

The EU is acting on its space ambitions by addressing two pressing issues: space-based secure connectivity and Space Traffic Management. Space technology is essential to facilitating our daily lives and contributing to a more digital, green and resilient future for our planet.

The EU's Space Programme already provides valuable data and services for a wide array of daily applications, in support of transport, agriculture, crisis response or the fight against climate change, among many others.

However, the EU’s space policy needs to constantly evolve and adapt to new challenges to continue enjoying the benefits space brings to our citizens. These new proposals will help safeguard the efficiency and security of our current assets, while developing cutting-edge space technology to strengthen the European space power.

EU space-based secure connectivity system

The need for a secure and resilient global connectivity increases with the digitisation of the economy and society, and the increasing geopolitical and cybersecurity threats.

The Commission has therefore proposed an ambitious plan for an EU space-based secure communication system that will:

  • ensure worldwide uninterrupted access to secure and cost-effective satellite communication services for the protection of critical infrastructures, surveillance, external actions and crisis management
  • allow for the provision of commercial services by the private sector that can enable access to advanced, reliable and fast connections to all citizens and businesses across Europe

Main features of this proposal are:

  • Security: Cyber resilience will be increased by defending against cyber threats, while the European Quantum Communication Infrastructure (EuroQCI) will be integrated to enable secure transmission of cryptographic keys.
  • Innovation: Innovative technologies will be integrated, derived from both established space industry players with proven technology as well as the disruptive New Space ecosystem.
  • Capability: Enhanced capability stemming from multi-orbital services, and complementarity with existing connectivity assets
  • Governance and eligibility conditions to avoid any dependencies on third parties: In line with the objective to provide secure governmental satellite communication services, the envisaged EU space-based secure connectivity system will be a strategic asset with geopolitical implications. It aims at reducing European dependency on non-European solutions.

An EU approach for Space Traffic Management

  • 1 million debris items larger than 1cm are orbiting around the Earth
  • 20,000satellites will be launched into space in the next 10 years
Sentinel satellite

Space Traffic Management (STM) in general encompasses the means and the rules to access, conduct activities in, and return from outer space safely, sustainably and securely.

 

The EU's approach to STM promotes safe, secure and sustainable use of space while preserving the EU's strategic autonomy and industry's competitiveness.

 

The Commission has proposed the following key actions:

  • Assessing requirements and impacts of Space Traffic Management for the EU: An inclusive and transparent consultation mechanism will be set up to gather STM requirements of all relevant EU partners. Regular dialogue on STM-related developments will cover both civilian and military needs.
  • Enhancing EU’s Space Surveillance and Traffic capabilities to support STM: The EU will accelerate research and development activities for the development of automatic collision-avoidance services and for the use of artificial intelligence and quantum technologies.
  • Fostering regulatory aspects: Regulatory aspects of Space Traffic Management comprise non-binding measures (standards and guidelines) and legislation at the EU level. Incentivising measures will be put in place to encourage EU operators to follow the guidelines and standards.
  • Promoting the EU’s approach globally: The EU will work with key partners and at multilateral level to actively promote pragmatic and concrete solutions towards a global Space Traffic Management.

 

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