Space is a strategic sector for the EU with various positive spillover effects on the entire economy, contributing to job creation, economic growth and EU security. Access to space is a key enabler and indispensable element in the overall space value chain: without access, there is no space policy.
In line with the Space Strategy for Europe (COM(2016)705), ensuring independent, reliable and cost-effective access to space is a political imperative for the EU. The EU must indeed ensure and maintain its autonomy of decision and not depend on conditions imposed by others, in particular for the implementation of EU Space Programmes such as EU flagships Galileo and Copernicus, but also for research projects funded by the European Union Research Framework Programmes.
For cost effectiveness and sustainability of access to space capacities, it is indispensable for the EU industry to rely on a global commercial market as European institutional market of launch services is too limited in demand.
In support of this goal of having independent and guaranteed access to space, the EU seeks, in coordination with European Space Agency (ESA), to foster and ensure the availability of European space transportation capabilities that are reliable, efficient, affordable, innovative and competitive.
The EU ambition is to act as a smart customer of reliable and cost-effective European launcher solutions, foster research and innovation in technology, support European critical and strategic test and launch infrastructure. Over the next 10-15 years, the EU aims to launch more than 30 satellites for its Galileo and Copernicus space infrastructure. Using the new European-made launchers – Ariane 6 and Vega C – will contribute to the EU objectives of ensuring independent, reliable and cost-effective access to space.
The EU also supports and will reinforce EU capacity to access space through research and innovation actions to strengthen the supply of European launch services and improve EU industry competitiveness, such as support to digitalisation and development of new concepts (e.g. re-usability, in-orbit servicing, micro-launchers). For example, in June 2018 the EU launched an inducement prize for a low-cost access to European space infrastructure and services solution dedicated to light satellites. The EU also supports regular opportunities for European in-orbit validation services for new technologies and products to be used in space.