Feeds

Europe gets a space policy

Defence or exploration?

High performance access to file storage

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Video games make you NASTY AND VIOLENT
Especially if you are bad at them and keep losing
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
India's GPS alternative launches second satellite
Closed satnav system due to have all seven birds aloft by 2016
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.