Tag Archives: space

Borrell visits EU Satellite Centre

The EU top dipolmat Josep Borrell visited the European Union’s Satellite Centre, SatCen, in Torrejón de Ardoz to get a first-hand debriefing about its activities. (Image above: illustration)

“The SatCen plays a fundamental role in the decision-making under the Common Security and Defence Policy, and actions of our 17 civilian and military missions and operations around the world. From Torrejón de Ardoz, it offers geostrategic analysis of intelligence for both the EU’s institutions and its Member States” said the diplomat during his visit.

The SatCen is under the operational direction of the High Representative. It is the only autonomous operational geospatial intelligence centre of the EU. It contributes, including through the production of satellite and aerial imagery, to the decision-making and actions of the EU in the field of the Common Foreign And Security Policy, and in particular Common Security and Defence Policy.

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano returned

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano touched down in the Kazakh Steppe at 09:12 GMT (10:12 CET), 6 February 2020 after his second six-month mission on the International Space Station. Luca returned to Earth in the Russian Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft alongside US astronaut Christina Koch and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov.

During his second mission, known as ‘Beyond’, Luca served as the third European and first ever Italian in command of the International Space Station. Before leaving the Station, he handed this role over to Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripocha in a traditional change of command ceremony.

While in orbit, Luca also performed four complex spacewalks to maintain the cosmic-ray-detecting Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer AMS-02, remotely operated a rock-collecting rover in the Netherlands, supported more than 50 European and over 200 international experiments, gained the European record for longest cumulative spacewalking time, and publicly shared countless images as he warned of the challenges facing our planet.

Luca will now return to ESA’s Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany where he will continue to work with researchers to gather baseline data and undertake an extensive programme of rehabilitation supported by ESA experts. The findings of this research and Luca’s work in space will help shape the future of space exploration and enhance technological developments on Earth.

Space as NATO “operational domain”

‘Two weeks from now, NATO leaders will meet in London. Together, we will mark our Alliance’s seventieth anniversary. And look to the future” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the meetings of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

‘Tomorrow, Foreign Ministers will finalize our preparations for the London meeting. This leaders’ meeting is timely. Not least because questions are being asked about the strength of the transatlantic relationship. There are indeed differences among Allies on a range of different issues. Such as trade, climate, the Iran nuclear deal. And more recently, the situation in North East Syria. But differences and doubts among Allies are not new. Despite them, NATO has only grown stronger over the last seventy years. And we continue to provide security for almost 1 billion people.     

“In fact, Europe and North America are doing more together in NATO today than we have for decades. We are strengthening our deterrence and defence, with more forces at higher readiness. Stepping up our response against cyber attacks and hybrid threats. And playing a key role in the fight against international terrorism, including with training missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Because ultimately, being part of a strong transatlantic Alliance is in the national interest of each and every one of our countries.  Everything we do must be underpinned by fair burden sharing. We are now in the fifth consecutive year of rising defence spending across European Allies and Canada. With more than $100 billion extra invested in defence. This is unprecedented progress. And we are determined to keep up the momentum.

“In a fast-changing world, NATO continues to adapt to face strategic challenges. And tomorrow, we will take another important step. I expect ministers will agree to recognize space as an operational domain, alongside air, land, sea, and cyber. Space is essential to the Alliance’s defence and deterrence. For early warning, communication and navigation.

“Around 2,000 satellites currently orbit the Earth. Around half are owned by NATO countries. So recognising space as an operational domain will be a clear sign that we continue to strengthen our deterrence and defence in all areas. Our approach will remain defensive and fully in line with international law. NATO has no intention to put weapons in space. But we need to ensure our missions and operations have the right support.

We will also address a range of other issues. Including NATO’s role in the fight against terrorism. Our training missions in Afghanistan and Iraq continue to play an important role in preventing the resurgence of ISIS and other terrorist groups.

“Our work to counter hybrid threats will also be on the agenda. Allies are stepping up, including with new baseline requirements for resilient telecommunications, including 5G. And our first counter-hybrid support team is in Montenegro this week.  We will also discuss other strategic issues, including Russia the implications of the rise of China, the future of arms control, and energy security.”

“NATO is the only forum that brings nations from Europe and North America together, to address strategic security challenges NATO remains the only guarantor of European and transatlantic security. And it is the responsibility of each of us to maintain and strengthen our unity. In order to ensure credible deterrence and defence for all of us.” 

ESA Aschbacher calls for investing in space

At opening of the #PhiWeek2019 the Director of Earth Observation Programmes Josef Aschbacher called for investing in European space industries, ensuring the EU leadership in space.

The European Earth observation mission is a unique project, assembling the creative family of Space innovators, EU enthusiasts and Earth Science lovers, however it goes far beyond the fascination with starts, and space, it is enhancing progress, preserving planet, bestowing wealth to businesses and societies.

The #PhiWeek provides an excellent platform for exploration of the  latest applications of transformative technologies affecting Science Innovation and FutureEO missions and services; Connecting with innovation ecosystems and emerging EO players, including for example data scientists, deep tech innovators, large ICT corporates and startups; gather and foster emerging EO Open Science communities.

#PhiWeek2019 is also a momentum of inspiration of early career scientists, entrepreneurs, citizens and dreamers by showcasing the scientific and business opportunities related to Open Science and FutureEO.

 

 

Galileo four satellites launch

This week four more Galileo satellites were successfully launched from the European spaceport in French Guiana on the European launcher Ariane-5. Now with a constellation of 26 satellites, the EU’s global satellite navigation system will provide a more precise signal across a range of valuable services.

Galileo has been a supplier of  positioning and timing services to around 400 million users since December 2016. The latest launch brings the constellation close to completion in 2020, which is when Galileo will reach full operational capability. Once complete and with a record precision of 20cm, Galileo will be the most precise satellite navigation system in the world.

Space may be far away but its technology, data and services have become indispensable in our daily lives, be it in rescue searches, connected cars, smart watches, farming or plane navigation. The European space industry is strong and competitive, creating jobs and business opportunities for entrepreneurs. For the next long-term EU budget 2021-2027, the Commission is proposing to bring all existing and new space activities under the umbrella of one single €16 billion ‘EU Space Programme‘.

 “Another milestone towards the full operational capability of Galileo in 2020! Space is becoming a new economic frontier, as it is vitally linked to a growing number of sectors and driving their profound modernisation. In fact, 10% of the EU’s GDP is dependent on space-related services. We therefore need to strive for Europe’s global leadership and strategic autonomy“, vice-president of the Commission Maroš Šefčovič said.

We can be very proud of our successful space activities. Europe has become a true space power. From the start of the mandate I had clear goals: develop the infrastructure on time and on budget, deliver first services and ensure rapid market uptake”, said Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, who led the European Commission delegation to Kourou (French Guiana).

 Galileo currently provides three types of satellite navigation based services

  • Galileo Open Service: a free service for positioning, navigation and timing. The timing service is increasingly robust, accurate and fast (in order of nanoseconds) compared to other location systems. It enables the eCall system, which has been mandatory in all new cars in the EU since 31 March 2018, to communicate the vehicle’s location to emergency services.
  • Galileo’s Search and Rescue (SAR) Service: localisation of distress signals from an enabled beacon. With the start of Galileo initial services in December 2016, the time it takes to detect a person lost at sea or in the mountains after a distress beacon is activated was reduced from up to 4 hours to about 10 minutes . The accuracy of localisation has improved too, from 10 km without Galileo to less than 2 km with Galileo. As of next year, the service will also send back a signal informing the person in danger that the distress signal has been picked up and localised.
  • Galileo Public Regulated Service (PRS): an encrypted service designed for public authorities for security sensitive use, for instance military operations. PRS aims at ensuring service continuity, even in the most adverse environment. It offers a particularly robust and fully encrypted service for government users during national emergencies or crisis situations, such as terrorist attacks.

Anyone with a Galileo enabled device is able to use its signals for positioning, navigation and timing. Galileo services are based on highly accurate signals, but during the current initial phase they are not available all the time and therefore are used in combination with other satellite navigation systems such as GPS. Every addition to the constellation gradually improves Galileo availability and performance worldwide. Once the constellation reaches 30 satellites in 2020, Galileo will be fully operational and independent, meaning that a position could be established autonomously everywhere and anytime using Galileo satellites only.

Galileo is a civilian system under civilian control, which provides accurate positioning and timing information. Galileo aims to ensure Europe’s independence from other satellite navigation systems and its strategic autonomy in satellite navigation. Europe’s autonomy in this sector will boost the European job market, help the EU step up its role as a security and defence provider, and support emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, drones, automated mobility and the Internet of the Things.