From your perspective as a satellite service and solutions provider, what would you say are the biggest shortfalls Europe is currently facing and where do Member States need to cooperate and invest more?
The EU SatCen is an operational centre supporting the decision making and actions of the European Union in the field of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), in particular the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), by providing products and services resulting from the exploitation of relevant space assets and collateral data, including satellite and aerial imagery.
For such a centre the image acquisition process is an essential issue, since SatCen doesn’t operate a space system and doesn’t have direct access to a sensor. Today, the European commercial suppliers efficiently provide Very High Resolution images but, for classified images, SatCen relies on the European governmental systems. In some cases, SatCen also resorts to non-European suppliers offering access to 25 cm resolution imagery. Thus, the access from European commercial companies to 30 cm optical imagery, but also to radar and infrared, in a reactive mode if needed, would constitute an important step. Regarding future governmental systems, a very operational access, including to programmation, would also bring a substantial additional capacity to the EU. In addition, a new challenge is appearing with the arrival of systems, in particular constellation of small satellites, allowing very short revisit times – a field where today Europe is absent.
Another issue concerns the secured transmission channels to deliver products and services: Today we rely on the EU Ops WAN network, but it cannot be used to provide large data volume products or services to end-users.
The necessity to simplify the access to the relevant information drives to offering integrated services, for example merging earth observation and localization data, allowing real-time navigation.
The EU Space Surveillance and Tracking Support Framework, launched in 2016, is a first step to address the protection of European spacecraft but it partially depends today on non-European data.
European autonomy, priority of the Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy, requires addressing all these shortfalls.