More Space for Europe
More Space for Europe
Commentary by Louis Gallois,
Chief Executive Officer of EADS, published in CEO Column, posted on 27.02.2008.
Source and Courtesy Astrium (©) .
Today I would like to talk to you about space challenges. We can all feel
great pride and joy at the events of the last few days. With the Columbus
laboratory, Europe has taken an important step towards establishing a constant
presence at the International Space Station (ISS).
The launch of the Space Shuttle carrying the Columbus spacelab had been
postponed so many times. But now, finally, the 13-tonne module has docked onto
the ISS and started operations. The first spacewalks by 'Columbus astronauts'
have also taken place. These achievements, which received huge media coverage
around the world, are the result of our efforts. So this is also our success!
The spacelab comes from Astrium and was built at its Bremen facility. And this
renewed fascination with space exploration, which Columbus has obviously
triggered, was 'Made by EADS’!
Very soon, in March, an Ariane launcher is due to bring the Automated
Transfer Vehicle (ATV) 'Jules Verne' into space, where – in an automatic
rendezvous manoeuvre – it will approach to within 60cm of the ISS orbiting at
28,000 km/h and then dock on in order to deliver seven tonnes of payload.
Thanks to two great technological achievements under EADS leadership –
Columbus today and the ATV tomorrow – Europe is becoming a full partner in
manned space exploration and asserting its presence in this field.
In other sectors that are crucial to our future, EADS is contributing to the
fact that space fulfils the desires of Europe's citizens and serves the needs of
states: scientific Earth observation satellites such as TerraSAR-X launched in
2007 for the exploration and surveillance of our planet, telecommunications
satellites, military space programmes and space access by means of the Ariane
launcher, which has just logged its 23rd consecutive successful mission. Seven-day
weather forecasts, better anticipation of climatic change, increasingly
efficient means of communication – none of these would be possible without space
Despite these successes, however, the European space industry is now at a
crossroads. Also, the global picture of the principle players in the space
industry is constantly changing. It’s no longer just the US, Russia and Europe
on board –China, Japan, India and Brazil have also joined the space club. Other
nations are likely to follow suit.
Each year, Europe invests in space five billion euros in commercial
activities and one billion in defence, while the US spends $17 billion and $25
billion respectively. This is not just a gap – it's a veritable chasm! Following
the example of the US, Russia is increasing its space budgets. India, too, has
raised its space budget – by 24% from 2004 to 2005 and by 35% from 2006 to 2007.
It now stands at more than $800 million, which in buying power is comparable to
the European budget. And, to conclude, there is China with its expenditure of
more than $2 billion per year on space activities. Trend: this is set to rise.
This situation requires joint action now for Europe, for which space budget
is still stagnating, to remain in the race – because today's successes are the
result of investment programmes launched several years ago. So what decisions
need to be taken today so as to guarantee Europe's position tomorrow in a highly
competitive environment and against a backdrop of major economic and political
challenges? Following the successful Columbus launch, both Chancellor Angela
Merkel and President Nicolas Sarkozy stressed the importance of an ambitious
The Ministerial meeting of the European Space Agency (ESA), which is due to
take place in late November, must see the transformation of ambitions into
actions – and into budgets. This is a chance not to be missed as this conference
is organized every three years only! The EADS contribution towards preparing
this meeting is a top priority and it is our duty to make proposals that give a
new impulse to European space policy. Beyond consolidating the access to and
exploitation of space, we need to promote space as a means of managing
sustainable development and climatic change, and developing telecommunications
services and satellite navigation. But, more than this: it is through a space
exploration programme in which human beings have their place that Europe will
show its ambition and gain the support of the public.
I believe in the importance of space exploration and in the capabilities of
Europe and EADS to make a significant contribution to this adventure. Along with
Astrium's remarkably dynamic and inventive teams, I will be working hard to
convince the national and European decision-makers to make the upcoming ESA
Ministerial meeting a real success for space in Europe.
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