Resilience, sustainability and access to funds all ingredients for a stronger EU Space Sector
Artificial satellites are able to endure in space thanks to the unique materials used to create them. The production of satellite components relies on some of the much needed critical raw materials such as germanium and gallium. Both materials are used to produce important satellite components from transistors to solar panels.
As Geert Vandenhoeck of Umicore, a leading circular materials technology company explained, around 90% of gallium and germanium is produced in and exported from Asia. “If China imposes export controls for these two materials, Europe could be in a vulnerable position” he said.
His opinion was echoed by CEO of Semi Zabala, Dr. Simon Wainwright who firmly supported the creation a purely European supply chain to feed the EU Space Economy and ensure its autonomy.
Becoming greener and more sustainable thanks to #EUspace
During a Green Deal themed session moderated by the Head of Earth Observation at DG DEFIS, Mauro Facchini, panellists presented ways the Copernicus programme contributes to the implementation of the Union’s most ambitious plan to turn our continent climate neutral by 2050.
Investing in renewables is a growing necessity. Geopolitical tensions and persistently soaring energy (gas) prices are pushing the Union to accelerate its transition to clean energy production, not only to deliver on Green Deal objectives (e.g., energy mix optimisation) but also to strengthen its energy sovereignty.
Copernicus can help here too, with a dedicated Copernicus Climate Service product called “reanalysis”. As ECMWF’s Carlo Buontempo explained ‘’using reanalysis, decision makers in the energy sector can be well informed on energy investments, such as the optimal location for solar or wind farms or tidal power generation plants.’’
Climate reanalysis is a way of creating “maps without gaps” – a scientific method for developing a comprehensive record of climate trends and how the climate is changing over time. Reanalysis allows scientists to have the best possible understanding of what happened during a particular event, such as a heatwave or storm. Most importantly, it represents a comprehensive historical record of the Earth’s climate and provides an accurate way to monitor how fast it is changing.
Carmen Aguilera from EUSPA also explained that by implementing EGNOS approaches across European airports we’re able to drastically reduce aviation emissions. “In Almeria airport, the LPV approach procedure with EGNOS, together with efficient descent techniques, was able to reduce emissions by 38% with respect to ILS with conventional operational techniques”.
Improving Access to Public funds
The second half of Day 2 of EU Space Week was also focused on the much-needed funds for new Space companies to develop downstream or upstream applications. The European Commission, together with ESA, is exploring new ways of procuring directly from New Space companies.
The Dynamic Purchasing System launched by the Directorate General for the Defence Industry already yielded positive results for many new space companies like Satlantis, which was one of the 9 companies that were awarded a €5 million contract for the Copernicus Contributing Missions.
As Guillaume de la Brosse pointed out the Commission has embarked into a new business model, the public-private partnership, to join forces directly with industry for the deployment of a programme with specific objectives and roles. This will be the case for the upcoming constellation for secure connectivity, IRIS2 .
All speakers of the session concluded that innovative procurement schemes should be maximised in the future so that public institutions act as anchor customers and are less involved the development phase.
The importance of access to funding was also highlighted during a dedicated CASSINI session where companies such IENAI SPACE and EOMAP shared their experience.
Honing skills and becoming more inclusive
While the space economy is growing fast, it is important to develop, hire and retain talent in the EU for a more resilient, green and digitally transformed space sector.
During a session on skills and inclusion, a panel of diverse EU organisation, academia, industry and associations shared their thoughts on the skill gaps and inclusion when engaging in a space-related education and careers and what needs to be done to develop and retain the right talent in Europe.
“We have a massive challenge finding and retaining talent in the space sector. We cannot afford to miss out on talent by not being a diverse and inclusive industry,” said board member Diana Pueyo at Women in Aerospace.
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