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European space industry and examples of space applications

European Commission - MEMO/07/154   26/04/2007

Other available languages: none

MEMO/07/154

Brussels, 25th April 2007

European space industry and examples of space applications

Navigation, timing, broadcasting, communication by satellite, earth observation for monitoring in case of natural disasters and humanitarian aid, are only a few examples of the important benefits we owe to space applications. These are essential for the functioning and future development of a sustainable European economy as well as for the daily life of its citizens. The European space industry plays a leading role in the world-wide commercial market of satellite manufacturing, launch services, and satellite operators. This press memo focuses on space industry and on space applications, such as GMES, satellite communications and GALILEO, which are key elements in the Communication adopted today on the European Space Policy.

European Space Industry

Space industry plays a crucial role in maintaining Europe’s industrial and technological capability for transportation, communication, observation, security and defence. Satellite information provides critical information for the environment, weather forecasts, defence forces and synchronising financial markets. Therefore many governments have invested heavily in space technologies and space systems.

World Government Expenditures for Civil Space Programs in 2006

European public sector investment in civil space amounts to about €6bn, of which half is invested through the European Space Agency (ESA); the balance is invested through national programmes.

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]

Source: Euroconsult

Space and its applications is a €90bn market worldwide growing at 7% per annum. In 2005, European space manufacturing industry turnover was €4,4bn with a workforce of 28,000.

Despite the relative low European investment in space, today European space industry is highly competitive and secures 40% of world markets for manufacturing satellites, for launching them and for providing services by operating them.

Origin of satellites launched 2000 – 2005

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]

Source: ESA

Space industry consolidated turnover by country 1996 - 2005

[ Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED ]

Source: ASD-Eurospace

Examples of Satellite Applications

The key to securing the maximum political, economic and social return from investment in space technologies lies in the development and exploitation of space applications.

1. Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES)

Natural and manmade catastrophes, climate change effects, coupled with increased security needs, have further reinforced the case for improved monitoring systems based on Earth Observation.

Earth Observation data are provided by observation satellites flying around our Planet in combination with measuring instruments on the ground, floating on the sea, deep in the oceans or in the air.

GMES services will use Earth Observation data to provide relevant information, for example concerning environmental pollution, floods, forest fires or earthquakes, and to supply them in support of public policy makers’ and EU citizens’ needs.

The GMES initiative will optimize the collection, exchange and use of data resulting from already existing Earth observation infrastructures and services, and provide new solutions where gaps are identified.

GMES is an EU-led initiative, in which the Commission is in charge to identify user needs and provide to the development of services and the European Space Agency (ESA) will manage the implementation of the space segment.

Examples of GMES services

With GMES, Fishermen will have information services at their disposal to guide them where the catch is optimal. On the other hand, advanced systems for the monitoring of vessels will help fighting illegal fishing and controlling marine resource preservation. Farmers will have information services at their disposal to optimise the use of their land (precision farming). On the other hand, advanced systems for crop monitoring will help agriculture and environment go hand in hand through control of agro-environmental measures and fighting fraud. Rapid mapping and other specific services will help civil protection services in Europe and elsewhere to be better prepared for, and respond more effectively to, major crises, as well as reconstruction needs.

More information

2. Satellite Communications Systems

Europe is home to three of the five largest satellite system operators in the world, providing telecommunications, television broadcasting, data and mobile services world-wide. The applications include:

  • distribution of television with in access of 3000 channels now available from satellites run by European operators;
  • satellite-based private data networks, whilst satellite communication systems provide an essential complement to the basic microwave and cable public telephony and data network;
  • emergency situations - floods, earthquakes, etc, when the terrestrial network has been put out of action
  • Europe’s armed forces and forces deployed on humanitarian or peace-keeping missions.

Satellite communication systems stimulate a range of industries:

  • the manufacture of satellites and their associated launcher rockets, where European constructors are competitive on the world market;
  • major satellite operators as well as other smaller European operators;
  • manufacturers of small ground terminals and small home terminals and set-top boxes to link the satellite signal to television sets – many of them are Small-and Medium-Sized Enterprise (SME);
  • television broadcasters and suppliers of television programmes, and through them suppliers of studio, media and outside broadcast facilities.

European technical capabilities in satellite communications need to keep pace with global competition. Thus, the European Space Policy foresees continued development, both via Union mechanism such as the 7th Programme of Research and Technology Development, as well as in the context of the telecommunications and technology programmes of ESA (European Space Agency)

More information

3. European Satellite Navigation System: GALILEO

Finding your way around a large building, monitoring animal transport or landing an aircraft with an accuracy of within 2 metres of the centre line of the runway, guiding blind people; driving at an appropriate speed in terms of the road conditions or allowing near real-time reception of distress messages from anywhere on earth: these are only few examples of benefits to be brought by GALILEO.

GALILEO is a global navigation infrastructure that consists of a constellation of 30 satellites and associated ground infrastructure. It will broadcast a set of very high quality timing signals used by a receiver to determine precisely its position, velocity and time.

The development and validation phase of this major European programme is jointly financed by the European Community and the European Space Agency (ESA). A private consortium should then deploy the full constellation through a Public-Private Partnership contract, and full service availability should be provided as of 2011/2012.

Applications span a large range of sectors, not only transport and communication but also other markets such as land survey, agriculture, scientific research, tourism, energy distribution and banking systems. Individuals, companies and administrations will all be able to benefit, whether on the roads, railways, in the skies or at sea.

More information on GALILEO

More information can be found in our press pack

The evolution of European user needs requires the development of integrated space systems, seamlessly linking satellite and terrestrial telecommunications, positioning and monitoring in areas of strategic, economic and societal value, for instance in the case of crisis management.

More detailed information on the new EU’ space policy can be found in the
press pack


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