Is Europe set to miss out on the emerging space economy?

1 min read

This week sees European countries gathering in Seville, Spain, to discuss the rapidly growing space economy and the benefits that could bring Europe, at a time when developments in space are being dominated by the likes of Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Experts have warned that the European Space Agency and the EU need to act decisively to ensure that Europe doesn’t "miss the train" on the emerging space economy. The discussion in Seville is expected to focus on funding the delayed Ariane 6 rocket as well as climate change and a possible new role in exploration.

Europe currently lacks autonomous access to space after delays to the Ariane 6 rocket, and the lack of access to Russia's Soyuz caused by the war in Ukraine.

There are also real tensions between France, Germany and Italy over launcher policy including medium-term funding for the Ariane 6, which is due for its first test launch in 2024, four years behind the original plan.

France, where manufacturer ArianeGroup is based, wants extra funding to help absorb cost overruns while Germany, which has financially underpinned the French company, now wants to develop its own emerging independent launch sector.

Sensitive budget talks will be a problem for the European industry and have raised worries that any delays will see Europe slip further behind the US, India and China.

Two decades ago, Europe’s IT sector had been competitive with both the United States and Japan when measured by patents and intellectual capability, but today none of the biggest IT companies are in Europe.

There are real worries that what befell European IT could happen to Europe’s space industry if it doesn’t start getting its act together.