Star wars: Europe is afraid to remain in space defenseless

Звездные войны: Европа опасается остаться в космосе беззащитной

While Europe has developed a civil system in space, other countries do not forget about the military component. Now the EU is thinking about defense in space, but so far I only know what to do with space debris.

Although the exploration of space military purposes has always played an important role, still the vacuum remains primarily an arena for peaceful competition and cooperation. Now in Europe believe that this era of disappearing. The danger of militarization of outer space has become a leitmotif of the 12th European aerospace conference, brought together on 21 and 22 January in Brussels more than a thousand politicians, bureaucrats, representatives of business and science.

Large players in the arm space

In 2019, Washington created the space forces. The US, Russia and China for a long time have weapons that can shoot down satellites. Last year they were joined by India.

In Europe such opportunities do not come here all the major space programs are civil. This is a satellite positioning system Galileo and geostationary navigation service coverage EGNOS and Earth observation Copernicus.

Not conducive to the Europeans to the development of space defense the structure of the space industry in Europe. If in the US all head two organizations – NASA and the Pentagon, in Europe players a lot more. Space programmes of the EU, the European Commission and the European Agency for global navigation satellite systems. Separately there is the European space Agency ESA (ESA), the composition of participating countries which does not entirely coincide with those of the EU. The defense issues are in the competence of national States.

Though some results are trying to show the selected country. So, last year France adopted the strategy space defense and created space command, headed by General Michel Fridlington. The reason for this step was the “act of espionage” for the French-Italian satellite Athena-Fidus, which Paris blamed Russia. In July 2019, Rome also adopted a security strategy in space.

Why Europe is afraid in space?

Deputy defense Minister of Italy, Angelo Tofalo listed at the conference in Brussels the different options of attacks on satellites: ballistic missiles, electronic jamming, blinding sensors with lasers. “We must consider space as a real space military confrontation… But who will dominate in this space?” asked Tofalo.

The danger of militarization of outer space has said many other politicians, for example Vice-presidents of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, and Margrethe Vestager. However, any concrete proposals from politicians and officials did not sound. They also did not name specific countries, which could present a danger in space.

In addition to the deliberate harm exists in the space and another threat. We are talking about space debris. According to the ESA, the earth’s orbit now there are about 4.5 thousand satellites, of which the workers are 1.5 thousand. Others have worked for the resource. In addition, around the Earth, flying more than 70 thousand objects larger than one centimeter. On the assumption that space launch more satellites, the threat of collision will only increase.

In this matter the position of Europe is much better. ESA has already scheduled the first operation for “cleaning” in space. In 2025, the orbit must remove the adapter from the European launch vehicle Vega with the help of the satellite Swiss startup Clearspace. The Director of ESA, Johann-Dietrich Werner, Jan (Johann-Dietrich ‘Jan’ W?rner) recognizes that to remove one piece of rubbish – it sounds undignified, but stressed that the world’s first project of this kind. “We have begun. We have to watch the environment not only on Earth but also in space,” he says. In ESA, want the first operation to “clean” was followed by other, but do not plan to take the case entirely in their hands. According to Werner, the goal is to enable the emergence of new business sectors for the removal of debris from orbit.

To the moon with Russia

When it comes to the peaceful use of space – unlike the military sphere – the Europeans have a lot more plans. One of them is to establish a system for monitoring space and tracking objects on orbit (Space Surveillance and Tracking, SST). It should help to avoid collisions in space, primarily with garbage. Ultimately, the EU would create a global database of objects in orbit, but recognize that it is difficult – and so far set the goal to become independent in the issue of space surveillance from other players, primarily from the United States.

Another goal – flight to the moon. In this case, Jan Werner doesn’t want a repeat of 1969, when landed on the moon alone the Americans. He believes that the mission should be shared, not only with the United States. “Russia is a partner for us in many areas, not only for manned flights but also for flights to the moon, and for ExoMars (a joint program of ESA and Roscosmos on the exploration of Mars. – Ed.). However, Russia is also our competitor,” said Werner told DW.

Europe is the second “space” investment

Europe’s space industry ranked second in the world in terms of investment in it. This was confirmed by DW Director of programs for Earth observation of ESA Ashbacher Josef (Josef Aschbacher). While Europeans are more concerned about how not to lose their positions. Thus, the United States today are investing in space exploration is seven times more than Europe. But the most dangerous competitors in the ESA do not see in the United States and not in Russia. “China is catching up very quickly,” warns Ashbacher.

In 2018, the Europe weight launched into space the spacecraft was only in fourth place with nearly 60 tons. The US has launched 130 tons of satellites into space. The China in 2018, came in second place with 76 tons. Russia behind him at more than 10 tons.

The EU intends to counter this trend, combining 2021 all their space programs into one. In Brussels believe that it will make it more visible to the public. This program plan within 7 years to allocate about 16 billion euros. However, almost the entire amount will be directed to existing Galileo and Copernicus. On the new elements of the program – the SST system and secure communications for government services GOVSATCOM – there are only 500 million euros.

Звездные войны: Европа опасается остаться в космосе беззащитной

Звездные войны: Европа опасается остаться в космосе беззащитной

Звездные войны: Европа опасается остаться в космосе беззащитной

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