Blog AnalysisSpace Satellites

Europe, an unknown space giant

Launch of Sentinel 3 for Copernicus (credit: ESA)

(B2) There are sometimes silent revolutions... Space is one of those. In this area, Europe is not a dwarf, as the High Representative of the Union reminded us during the European Space Days which have just taken place this week in Brussels.

The second largest space budget in the world

Europe is not a space power in the making ", she is already in a way with the " second largest space budget in the world », as Federica Mogherini rightly wanted to remind us during the space days in Brussels. " Our technology and expertise make us a heavyweight in global space markets. " And " we will have to keep investing and investing better - if we want to be the autonomous and cooperative space power that we need to be for our citizens, but also that the world needs us ».

Satellites to track migratory movements and Daesh terrorists

European images from space are often called upon to come to the rescue following natural disasters, to detect oil spills in the ocean, to observe the movements of human smugglers and many other things..." It's not a luxury toy. It is essential to our own security and to our policy, for us Europeans and for our partners. ” emphasizes the head of European diplomacy. " When Daesh terrorists attacked historic sites in Syria and Iraq, satellites helped not only in damage assessment, but also in reconstruction planning. » And to add: “And we share this work as a global superpower, like the European Union, with our partners in the region and around the world. »

NB: the High Representative did not specify this, but she could have added that European satellites also have very precise images (at the request of some Member States) of the forces present in eastern Ukraine, as well as than passages of convoys of vehicles. They have also been used to locate and mark locations of chemical weapons, at the request of the OPCW, the international organization for chemical weapons.

A mapping tool in the event of a natural disaster

One of the most interesting tools is Copernicus, " probably the best fast mapping system in the world. "" When Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean, we immediately mobilized Copernicus to support everyone in need ". Copernicus thus enabled in a few hours to produce precise maps to assess the damage and, above all, to plan rescue operations, in the French West Indies and the British Virgin Islands, but also for Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and even Florida. " We did this for free, because we consider it our duty and our responsibility as a responsible world power to help our friends in need. And because space does not belong to any country, but to all of us, as humanity. »

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

European space resources

The Europeans first of all have a European Space Agency (set up at intergovernmental level and bringing together some twenty countries), which notably manages the launch of satellites, the Galileo system currently being set up (1), which will provide the equivalent of GPS, but European and more efficient, as well as mapping or analysis systems such as Copernicus (formerly GMES) and the European Union Satellite Center (SatCen), established near Madrid .

(1) Twenty-two Galileo satellites have already been launched - four last year, with four more to come this year.


Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

3 thoughts on “Europe, an unknown space giant"

  • Very interesting article, thank you.
    Can we know what this budget is (amount, evolution, etc.)? And what satellites does Copernicus and SatCen have?

    Single shell:
    as recalled by the High Representative of the Union => as recalled by the High Representative of the Union

    • Copernicus = Sentinel. The SatCen appeals to different markets on existing satellites, its added value is analysis not shooting 😉

  • Hello sir,
    This article is interesting, it wants to undo received ideas. Nevertheless, I wonder if the argument “The second biggest budget for space in the world“ is judicious. On what numbers – generic, let's not go into details – is this assertion based? Do we take into account the agencies – not declared space but which are indeed – such as the American DoD and NSA, in addition to NASA? Certainly Europe may be the second largest space budget in the world, but far behind the first, and on a par with China?
    Thank you for keeping this blog which is fascinating and professional,
    Christophe Carreau

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