Space is back! Fifty years after the first manned mission to the moon, people are once again enthusiastically cheering on astronauts as they embark on their journey to the International Space Station (ISS). In the 1950s and 1960s, space travel was dominated by the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. Today there are even more interested parties: Besides the US and Russia, China, India, Israel, and even private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin. What role should Europe play in this gaggle of space players?
Many European countries have their own space ambitions, but they could not keep up with the budgets of NASA or Soviet spaceflight. That is why the European Space Agency (ESA) was founded in 1975 to coordinate European space activities. Its mission is to “provide for and promote, for exclusively peaceful purposes, cooperation among European States in the field of space science and technology and their applications in space, in order that they may be used for scientific purposes and for operational space application systems.” How successful is ESA in fulfilling this objective?
What do our readers think? You sent us questions and comments, which we passed on to a space expert at an event organised by our sister think tank Friends of Europe: Eric Morel de Westgaver, Director of European, Legal and International Affairs at the European Space Agency.
First, our reader Marcel sent us this comment:
Space research that serves people is always good. That’s why I welcome research by private individuals who don’t have war and armaments on their minds, but rather [care about space exploration] for people.
One thing above all is important to our reader Serina:
The important thing is to go back to the basics of a treaty that was once concluded (on the subject of outer space). And keep to it without any ifs and buts!
You can see how Eric Morel de Westgaver responded in the video at the top of this post.
What should Europe’s role be in space? Should more Europeans invest in space? Are international actors abiding by the Outer Space Treaty? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!