These are extraordinary times for the space sector around the world.
The climax last year was the landing of the European Space Agency's Philae spacecraft on comet 67P/Churymov-Gerasimenko, following a decade-long flight across the solar system. The echoes of this historic landing could still be heard when we started listening to an entirely different music: Elon Musk announcing a new project of SpaceX, supported by Google, for a global satellite Internet constellation to eventually include some 4,000 satellites in low Earth orbit, and providing initial service before 2020. Musk’s announcement came shortly after OneWeb LLC, a UK company, announced that Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic would invest in their 650-satellite Internet constellation.
Are we going to witness a shift from scientific exploration to a new space competition to control global Internet communications: a Space Race 2.0?
Of course, the market for satellite communications is not a new one. It has been expanding at a substantial rate over the last three decades and the European industry has managed to control a third of it.
In this Opening session of “Lift to Space”, Chief Executives from the satellite industry and telecommunication operators, who are at the forefront of this huge international market, will present their strategies to address this challenging new race.
Services and applications are the major driver behind these space technology developments. They take a growing part in such domains as Health, Safety, Education, Development, Energy, Transport, Agriculture or Environment. Most of these applications do not rely only on telecommunication satellites, but rather on a combination of different space infrastructures, including Earth Observation satellites and global navigation systems, such as Galileo and GPS.
To accelerate this transformation, ESA in partnership with private companies, has undertaken a major effort to spin R&D activities into operational, profitable and self-sustaining products and services which satisfy concrete customer’s needs.
Throughout this session, top Executives of ESA’s Telecommunication and Integrated Applications Directorate will also describe these efforts and present some of the major achievements of the past years.