In his address, Jean-Yves Le Gall gave a broad overview of Europe’s space programme, which has made it the world’s number two space power thanks largely to the major and continuous R&D efforts conducted first through ESA and subsequently through the European Union, working alongside national efforts. R&D has become vital today to shape Europe’s policy and industrial strategy in response to the dual challenge posed by the rapid growth of emerging space powers, especially China and India, and the deep transformation of the space sector in the United States driven by the NewSpace revolution.
European R&D policy is already moving ahead by encouraging initiatives like those to support critical technologies and create a risk-capital fund dedicated to space, with the aim of making Europe an agile and competitive space player. This targeted and ambitious policy is shared by the European Union, ESA and member states, feeding into the four priorities of the Space Strategy for Europe adopted by the European Commission in 2016 to develop new applications, make industry more competitive, secure Europe’s strategic independence and strengthen its credibility as an international partner.
In conclusion, Jean-Yves Le Gall suggested three areas of focus to structure Europe’s R&D efforts after 2020:
· Concentrate on applications, disruptive technologies and IOD/IOV services.
· Establish new forms of partnership like JTIs to make Europe’s space industry more competitive.
· Give cross-cutting priority to coordinating R&D actions by the European Union, ESA and national agencies.
He commented: “R&D has taken spacefaring Europe to where it is today, and it is an ambitious R&D strategy for the future that will enable it to maintain its edge.”
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