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The European Space Forum Returns to Brussels

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Dakota W.

Dakota W.

Tue Jul 04 2023Written by Dakota W.

The European Space Forum is set to make a highly anticipated return to Brussels on July 5th, 2023. This prestigious event gathers influential stakeholders and thought leaders for two full days of in-person debates, aimed at addressing the crucial challenges and opportunities facing Europe's space ambitions. With the backdrop of the recently unveiled EU Space Strategy for Security and Defence, this year's forum revolves around the theme of "Strength, security, resilience - Protecting Europe's interests in and through space." The focal points of the discussions will revolve around security and defence, sustainability, competition, innovation, and connectivity.

The pinnacle of the event lies in the 'Innovation in Space Award' and 'Sustainability in Space Award,' recognizing outstanding European projects and organizations that are at the forefront of innovation and sustainable development within the space industry. These accolades, awarded annually, aim to acknowledge the significant impact and contribution made by these organizations or projects to the space sector and society at large. The winners will be chosen by a panel of expert judges, including representatives from the European Commission, ESA, and leading space and satellites trade associations. Furthermore, the participants of the European Space Forum will have an opportunity to vote for their preferred nominees, ensuring a democratic voice in the selection process. The criteria for judgment will encompass the uniqueness and innovativeness of the service offerings, as well as the long-term feasibility, scalability, and inspiration potential for future actors within the industry.

The forum also seeks to address the evolving landscape where space plays a pivotal role in security and defence. To this end, the EU Space Strategy for Security and Defence comes into focus, outlining plans and actions to strengthen the resilience and safeguard the space systems and services within the European Union. It provides a comprehensive strategy to respond to space threats and maximize the use of space for security and defence purposes. These discussions will delve into the multifaceted roles that stakeholders need to play in order to achieve a more robust and resilient European Union through space. Key objectives include defending Europe's interests, protecting space assets and services, and enhancing Europe's autonomy and assertiveness as a space power on the global stage.

The protection of critical infrastructures that rely on space services is another crucial aspect of the discussions. Europe aims to find effective ways to safeguard these assets and make them more resilient. Participants will explore the best path forward in achieving this objective and address the challenges posed by potential security threats.

Industry representatives, EU policymakers, and member states are called upon to collaborate in response to security threats and to maximize the positive impact of space in contributing to security and defence within Europe. By aligning their efforts and expertise, they can strengthen Europe's strategic sovereignty and capacity to make autonomous decisions in the space domain.

The increasing amount of space traffic has posed significant challenges, necessitating the development of enhanced space traffic management processes. Efforts are underway at both the European level and within member states and the private sector to address this issue and ensure safer and more sustainable practices in outer space. A proposed space law aims to establish common rules on collision avoidance, safety, and mitigation measures, with the overarching goal of achieving "strategic autonomy" in space traffic management. This session will examine the objectives and scope of this proposed law, as well as global initiatives aimed at improving space traffic management and space domain awareness.

Discussions will explore the ongoing work at the European level, by member states, and the private sector to tackle the challenges arising from increasing space traffic. They will also seek to determine the potential for establishing common rules at the European level to enhance space traffic management and space domain awareness. The allocation of funding for the development of space traffic management and space domain awareness will be scrutinized, with an emphasis on the potential for increased funding in the upcoming Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). The forum will also explore avenues for supplementing the funding with contributions from member states and encouraging greater private sector involvement to foster a sustainable commercial market. Furthermore, the integration of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will be examined for their potential to improve space traffic management and overall safety and sustainability in space operations.

Finally, the European approach to space traffic management and space domain awareness will be a key focus. Rolf Densing, the Director of Operations at ESA, will contribute his insights to this crucial discussion. The session aims to outline the coordinated efforts required from various stakeholders to establish an effective framework for space traffic management and domain awareness, ensuring the responsible and sustainable operation of activities in space.