Feeds

Europe gets a space policy

Defence or exploration?

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The European Union has officially got a space policy, an essential item for any aspiring superpower.

The document talks a lot about the importance of space as an inspirational tool to get youngsters into science and engineering, and it mentions the need for pan-European coordination of space efforts to maximise research gains.

But, as with the equivalent document produced by the US, it is far more about military advantage than moon rocks (albeit it a little less overtly territorial).

According to the official announcement from the European Space Agency (ESA), the policy has been designed to provide a stronger Europe in space "better equipped and better coordinated to face the future needs of its citizens". It promises "a wider strategic scope to address new challenges, including the areas of security and defence space programmes, and space as an added dimension to the EU's external relations".

What this really boils down to is, "we have to have a space policy, because space technology is inextricably linked with a military edge".

That is, intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs. The technology behind these rockets, which allow the owner to send nukes pretty much anywhere they like, is the foundation of the technology that allows a nation, or coalition of nations, to send satellites and so forth into space.

If you can do space, you can by definition nuke your neighbour - provided you have some nukes anyway. So when a space policy talks about strategic advantage, or "increased synergy between civil and defence space programmes", it means the writers want a place in the international nuclear power club.

The European Council has passed a resolution on the policy in an almost inpenetrable document, which you can try reading here (pdf).

This makes several references to the importance of emerging satellite navigation and communications technologies, and the importance of Europe having a network capable of providing GPS-type coverage that is independent of the US GPS system, although it does stress that this must be under civil control.

As for access to space, the Council of Ministers says it is vitally important that Europe "maintain an independent, reliable and cost-effective access to space".

In terms of space technology, the council stresses the importance of "a targeted approach for the development of strategic components, for which the dependency of European Industry on international suppliers should be avoided".

These things are all useful for exploring the solar system, sure, but they are even more important if you want to be able to disagree with NATO anytime soon.

Of course, it is about exploration too, and it would be doing the Euro-boffins a disservice if this were not mentioned. The policy emphasises the importance of "proactive" ESA involvement in the international space station, and gives ESA a pat on the back for the work it has done over the last 30 years. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.