Space as a Vital Factor
Satellite-based communication and navigation, Earth observation for weather forecast, disaster relief, pollution tracking, and orbital-based research are normal parts of our life today. Space has become a commercial factor.
The EU plays a vital yet relatively minor role in space technology. We want to stimulate this sector and open it up. This will generate a significant push for technology and collaboration between EU member states and other partner nations.
With the commercialization of space, new opportunities like space mining and colonisation of space arise. These will generate considerable economic advances. The EU needs to make sure to get its share of this development.
EU Space Vision for the Future
Due to technological advancement and commercialization, activities in space are no longer topics for the distant future. Interplanetary travel, planetary defence, space mining, production in space, colonisation of other planets, and even early concepts for interstellar space probes are issues that need to be addressed today.
The EU needs to define a clear vision, strategy, and objectives to ensure international cooperation, multilateral global governance and basic principles of the rule of law, justice and democracy in the space domain. We need to ensure the continued development of the EU Space Programme Agency that is politically and financially accountable to the EU public through the EU Institutions and receives an adequate EU-wide mandate for space development.
Industrial Space Policy
Worldwide, the activities in space are shifting from government agencies to private and commercial entities.
In the current decade, the EU Space Programme should concentrate on stimulating development in the private sector. Public-funded research should primarily use commercial launch services and focus on high-risk aspects where it can break ground for disruptive technologies, like light sails for long-range missions and resource extraction in space.
Independent EU launch capacities with full reusability have to be developed to ensure the EU has sufficient access to space and can stay in a leading position technologically and economically.
A legal framework is required to prevent the abuse and weaponisation of space assets.
Law in Space
The Outer Space Treaty (OST) does not cover many critical legal issues regarding the use and commercialization of space. The EU, as a prime example of multiple nations working together for the common good, should take a leading role in pushing to expand the OST to cover important issues like space mining, space debris, and environmental aspects.
Space must be accessible and utilized for the good of all humankind.
Environmental laws in space should address issues like pollution that can affect broad areas or reach inhabited or potentially inhabitable space objects, areas that can possibly be home to extraterrestrial life, and also protecting places that are of high importance to research, like the far side of the Moon which has exceptionally low radio frequency interference, making it a vital spot for radioastronomy.
Derelict satellites, rocket stages, and debris in orbit threaten space travel. The EU must push for international treaties that mandate removing space debris and prevent new space junk by controlled deorbiting of spent rocket stages and end-of-life satellites. Activities that generate space debris, like tests of anti-satellite systems, must be outlawed.
Research programs for technologies to remove space debris have to receive additional funding.
An impact of a major object can cause immense damage to Earth. Planetary defence against such events is of high importance. We want to increase the funding for projects to detect potentially dangerous near-earth objects and for technologies to deflect dangerous objects.
The activities for planetary defence must be coordinated and integrated internationally.
Expendable launch systems are becoming outdated fast, and the economic benefit of reusable systems is significant. The EU needs its own reusable launch capability to stay competitive and enable larger-scale projects.
Moreover, an independent crew transport capability, initially to the Earth‘s orbit, is needed.
Developing these systems on a domestic level will be necessary to keep up with the international development currently dominated by the USA and China.
The EU space programme should also fund goals that are or seem to be out of reach today. Working on far-flung targets, like building an interstellar probe, space elevator or space hook, will stimulate the development of radically new technologies and materials. To ensure civilian use for humankind’s benefit as well as effective scientific and economic collaboration, such large and powerful space technologies should be developed with international partners.
Reaping Benefits of the Space Program
The return on investment in space technologies is tenfold. The Pirates believe that investing in a large-scale space program will produce research results that have the potential to improve the lives of everyone. We want open-access principles to make the research findings broadly available. The application of space technology should benefit the everyday life of all people, like the already increasing internet coverage in remote areas and satellite-based navigation.
Tell the Story
Space exploration is underrepresented in the media. A vital part of the EU Space Programme must be the communication of projects to the general public to raise awareness of the importance of space for the future of humankind.