The Space sector is not just about competition; it is above all an area of active cooperation
This week, MEP Christophe Grudler has been invited by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the French Centre for Space Studies (CNES) to witness the launch of the ALPHA mission by astronaut Thomas Pesquet at Cape Canaveral. This is an ideal opportunity for him to discuss Europe's leadership in space and future prospects in the field.
Space is undoubtedly one of the most strategically important sectors in the world. There are many development programmes and the competition between players is intense. It is often forgotten, but in this "space race", Europe is a major stakeholder and play a key role in many areas.
Despite the financial superiority of the United States and China, our continent performs very well: whether with flagship programmes such as Copernicus for Earth observation, or Galileo for geolocation, Europe is investing heavily in its space capacities. This is reflected especially in the European Union's 2021-2027 space programme, for which we have allocated a budget of more than 14.8 billion euros.
However, the space sector is not only about competition, it is above all an area of active cooperation. This is particularly true for manned spaceflight, an area in which Europe is particularly involved, for instance in the missions to the International Space Station (ISS). The perfect example is the Alpha mission of Thomas Pesquet, whose lift-off I will be attending this week in Florida. He will be conducting a large number of scientific missions for the ESA and CNES, helping to advance science in space and on Earth!
In the immediate future, Europe will continue to pursue this international cooperation. In this respect, I am delighted by the agreement signed between ESA and NASA in October 2020, which stipulates European participation in the planned "Lunar Gateway" space station that will be in orbit around the Moon. Above all, this agreement will enable European astronauts to go to the Moon: this is a first!
And this space cooperation regarding the Moon is only one step away from our next objective: Europeans on Mars!