Space is a boundless mystery that continues to remind us how much exploration has yet to be carried out to learn about our surroundings. Three space ventures are currently being developed by the EU so as to benefit its Member States in a variety of ways. These are: Galileo, which is sometimes referred to as “the European GPS”; Copernicus, which is an earth observation programme; and the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS).
Today – 26 October – the European Commission made it clear that it wants to get European companies more involved in the space industry. The Commission has formulated a new space strategy that hands a great deal of importance to private companies. It is envisaged that increased involvement would allow various sectors, such as the agricultural and car manufacturing sectors, to access data from satellites more easily.
A space strategy is so useful in this day and age as it provides practical support needed, for instance, for the use of modern technologies (such as mobile phones and satellite television) and the undertaking of rescue operations. With regard the latter, rescue operations in response to earthquakes in Ecuador (April 2016) and central Italy (August 2016) serve as prime examples. The Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) of the European Commission made use of the EU Copernicus Emergency mapping service in order to evaluate which of the populated regions were most impacted by the natural disasters.
European space programmes bring the required tools to stimulate the EU’s economy. Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs mirrored this position by stating that: “space-based applications are changing our lives, our economy, our industry. Space is a key industrial sector in Europe's economy, and a strategic asset supporting Europe's autonomy of action at the global stage. But it needs more entrepreneurs and more private investment if it is to stay ahead of the curve. My message therefore to industry, start-ups and investors is that space matters and we are in space for the long haul.”