Brussels, 15 February 2022 (TDI): The European Union (EU) has stepped up to upgrade its space program. As of today, it published a tweet specifying it will launch a connectivity system based on satellites that would assist in the management of and action of space traffic for a Europe that is much more resilient and digital in nature.

This whole initiative of the EU will launch two programs that are specific to the cause; a new regulation of space-centered connectivity that is secure and the EU’s procedure on Space Traffic Management (STM).

Taking into consideration how important space travel and space in general as a topic has become an integral part of nations and their citizens, it is important that there is space technology that could assist individuals in their daily lives as well as contribute to a future for the planet that is increasingly sustainable, green and resistant.

The European Union has already been a supranational state that has played a strategic role in space power, it continuously provides valuable data that is used for daily activities such as climate change, transport, and agriculture.

However, the EU constantly strives to improve itself when it comes to space travel as a result of increasing competition in the area of space power and a rise of innovative challenges.

Space-based Connectivity

This is a strategic asset when it comes to the EU’s resilience as for the EU government and its citizens, secure connectivity is considered and has evolved to be a public good.

The program promises many merits to the people of the EU for instance, digital leadership, technological sovereignty, societal progress, competitiveness, and economic power.

EU’s plan for the Space-based secure communication system 

One of the main aims of this program is to deliver long-standing accessibility to the world of uninterrupted satellite communication activities and services that are cost-efficient and secure.

It also aims to provide protection of infrastructures that are critical, external actions, management of crisis situations, and applications which are significant for the defense, security, and economy of the member states of the EU.

Furthermore, another aim of the system will be to provide the private sector with commercial services that will give them the ability to access and provide reliable, fast, and advanced connections to not only the businesses of Europe but to the citizens of Europe as well.

Moreover, this will also include communication zones that are dead otherwise known as ‘communication dead zones’ which will ensure there is greater cohesion across the member states of the European Union. This was one of the aims that were outlined in the 2030 Digital Decade which the EU is taking steps to tackle.

What’s further promised within this system is the provision of connectivity in geographical areas which hold strategic interests, areas such as the Arctic and Africa, all of which are included in the EU Global Gateway strategy.

Given the rise in the dynamic demands of the government and the users, the EU aims to meet these demands through the new innovative quantum technologies for communication so that encryption can be secured.

The whole system on security will be structured according to innovative developments as well as disruptive technologies with the assistance of the NewSpace Ecosystem.

The estimated cost of the entire project stands at a total of 6 billion Euros, the current contribution the EU has made to the program that will last from 2022-27 currently stands at 2.4 billion Euros.

The funding needed for the program is to arise from various forms within the public sector, such as the EU budget, the contributions made by the European Space Agency (ESA), investments pooled in through the private sector along with contributions from the Member states.

It is estimated that there will be many benefits from this initiative, as competitiveness will rise in the space ecosystem of the EU, new infrastructure will emerge which is projected to promise a gross value added (GVA) of 17-24 billion Euros along with greater jobs for the space industry within the EU.

It also promises by-products in the economy as downstream sectors benefit from new connectivity services. Citizens are projected to gain benefits from the improved operational performance of the satellites.

Space Traffic Management (STM)

Due to a rise in the number of satellites that orbit the Earth as a result of increasing developments through private initiatives, the access that the EU and member states have to space assets is becoming increasingly risky.

As a result, such steps are integral for the EU to take, long-term projects such as these promise that space remains a sustainable and secure environment.

This is why the EU is determined to push the project forward as the management of space traffic is a public policy problem, which demands the EU to take steps as quickly as possible, through collective as well as multilateral level work.

Given such developments, it is the aim of the Joint Commission to establish an EU solution regarding Space Traffic Management. The goals within this solution would be to create stable initiatives as well as sustainable and safe usage of space in a way that preserves the EU’s industrial competitiveness as well as its strategic autonomy.

4 main themes the Space Traffic Management initiative will focus on are:
  1. Strengthening the EU’s technological capability in order to not only identify but also track space debris and space crafts.
  2. Construct and establish a normative framework of legislation.
  3. Partner with international actors for the development of STM at a multilateral level.
  4. Access the requirements of STM for the military as well as civilian requirements, along with the effects on the EU.
Space Initiative taken by the EU
Inception workshop discussing the strategies of the EU Space Traffic Management program

In the words of the High Representative for the European Union’s Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell stated there has been an increase in the crowding within Space which as a result doubled the levels of risks and complexities associated with operations within space.

In order to address such an issue, the EU proposes the Space Traffic Management approach. He described that the EU aims to develop stable capabilities, establish norms as well as initiate an increase in secure, stable, and sustainable space usage.

While such a venture is for the civilians, the safety, security, and defense of the EU also depend on a safer and more secure space.