New expanded role for Prague-based space agency

New expanded role for Prague-based space agency

Brussels (Brussels Morning) The European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA) is scheduled to soon expand both its capacity and its scope. Based in Prague, the Czech Republic, the GSA is to become the EU Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA), bringing together all EU space activities under the one umbrella.

The formal decision came after Wednesday’s approval of a new European space programme, with MEPs officially pledging a total of 14.8 billion euros for space ventures between 2021 and 2027.

“With an ambitious budget of 14.8 billions euros and a clear governance, the new space programme sets the legal framework to foster innovation, to boost the EU industrial competitiveness and strategic autonomy and to secure our technological leadership at global level”, MEP Massimiliano Salini (EPP) declared.

Space race

The EU is betting on space applications to enhance navigation, Earth observation and civil protection projects. Space is poised to play an important role in advancing digitalisation, security and defence, and potentially mitigating the effects of climate change.

Under the new programme, the EU will start funding projects capable of providing high-quality, space-related data and key socio-economic benefits, the Parliament said.

The bulk of the €14.8 billion budget will be allocated to Galileo and EGNOS, the EU’s global and regional satellite navigation systems, and to the EU’s Earth observation programme d Copernicus.

In an official statement, EUSPA maintained it will ensure the continuity and evolution of the existing flagships Galileo/EGNOS and Copernicus.

It also announced support for two new initiatives, the European Union Governmental Satellite Communications (GOVSATCOM) and Space Situational Awareness (SSA).

“EUSPA is ready to implement the EU Space Programme and join hands with our partners to make the EU space ambitions a reality. We will boost our support to reinforce the dynamic and innovative downstream sector because we want society to benefit even more from space-based services”, Rodrigo da Costa, GSA/EUSPA’s Executive-Director, said.

Asked about the relationship between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the upcoming EUFSA, Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton said his job was “to try to make things work much more efficiently”. Hence the need, in moving “from development to exploitation”, he noted, “to rethink our governance”.

EU officials have guaranteed that ESA will not suffer any limitations on its role and that each of the agencies has distinct competencies.

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