The combination of cheaper technology and new investors led by the internet sector is lowering the threshold for access to space.
The number of space actors, public and private, is increasing, and with them comes the development of new space technologies and markets (such as reusable launchers, mass produced small satellites, in-orbit servicing and operations, space mining, sub-orbital flights). As a result, the number of objects in orbit will likely increase dramatically in the near future as well as new types of activities are emerging raising concerns for launcher operations, safe access to and operations in space and long-term sustainability of space.
To cope with this evolution, those future space operations from the Newspace may require new technical guidelines or new best practices for “Space Traffic Management” (STM) in order to preserve the space environment. This evolution is currently taking place in the US with the expected involvement of the Department of Commerce on space safety. Europe must be an actor of this change in order to maintain its autonomy for safely accessing and using space.
- Providing networking opportunities for stakeholders from the private space sector including research entities and the public space sector (space agencies) in order to identify responsibilities and key technologies to manage the increasing number of objects reaching orbit and performing re-entry.
- Assessing available and needed technologies and capabilities, best practices, standards and guidelines to develop a STM, including in terms of costs, feasibility and effectiveness, taking into account amongst others experiences from the EU SST and EU SSA, ESA-Cleanspace and Cleansat Programmes as well as international developments in the context of the United Nations (UNOOSA).
- Proposing a set of STM guidelines and best practices and evaluating their organisation and impact on the operations of spacecraft for space traffic management.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 1.50 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
05 March 2020 at 17:00 Brussels time