Students and young space professionals weigh in on future European Space Policy

Press Release From: European Commission
Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Following a consultation process that involved around 150 young people from all EU countries, the United Nations' Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) has published its recommendations on the EU Green Paper on European Space Policy. The document was handed to Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin at the Green Paper Closing Conference in Paris

One of the major recurring themes during the Space Green Paper consultation process was the importance of young people in the space industry. Long-term programmes and inspirational visions are seen by many as key to ensuring that a next generation of space pioneers will be there to take up the European standard.

Speaking in Paris, Busquin said, "One cannot underestimate the importance of providing a long-term vision for our young people. Space is and must remain not only a strategic and economic resource, but also the stuff of dreams and imagination. We therefore greatly appreciate the contribution of the SGAC in presenting the views of the next generation of Europeans in space."

The recommendations

The SGAC is a voluntary body representing youth and young space professionals to the United Nations, states and space agencies. Its key recommendations call upon the Union to:

  • Substantially increase the scope of EU space programmes, increase overall investment, integrate national space and defence programmes, and use resources more efficiently;
  • Develop capabilities in space security;
  • Strengthen and enforce space law and develop a treaty prohibiting space weapons;
  • Develop an inexpensive launch capability focusing on unconventional technologies;
  • Expand cutting-edge programmes, including human spaceflight and exploration, providing inspiration and reducing brain drain;
  • Dedicate 1% of all space budgets to education and outreach;
  • Establish a centre for strategic interdisciplinary research; and
  • Establish a Youth Advisory Council to support EU Space Policy.

According to Will Marshall, a PhD student in Physics at the University of Oxford UK, "It is important that the Commission hears the voices of young people as we represent the future of the space sector in Europe. We are at the unique stage in our careers where we remain visionary but at the same time have the technical knowledge with which to understand the practical steps forward."

For Julia Tizard, a PhD student in Cosmochemistry at the University of Manchester, the declining interest in science among higher-level students is a real barrier for Europe on the way to attaining its goal of becoming the world's most advanced knowledge-based society. "Space," she says, "is an exemplary way to increase interest in science and technology! Increasing spending on education and outreach, and enhancing cutting edge programmes, such as human spaceflight, solar system exploration, and advanced launchers, would help keep Europe's scientific elite within its boarders."

No ambition too great

Political scientist Andre Nilsen, from Norway, says "European economic and security-related ambitions demand that we narrow the 1:6 ratio between European and American investment in space. A new Directorate-General should be established in the Commission to coordinate civilian and security-related space policy. This new Space DG would also oversee the implementation of policy by the European Space Agency, which would be incorporated into the EU as an executive agency."

From a legal perspective, Gerardine Goh, a Singaporean space law Masters student at University College London, says, "The enforcement of international space law must be strengthened. This is necessary for the continued use of space for exclusively peaceful purposes. The SGAC is particularly concerned by recent developments in space weaponry and missile defence, and the effects of the cessation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. We strongly recommend that the EU take an international leadership in developing a treaty regime comprehensively prohibiting weapons and warfare in outer space."

For the complete SGAC recommendations.

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