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Research Report

Space security for Europe

Massimo Pellegrino
Gerald Stang
Copyright Date: Jul. 1, 2016
Pages: 102
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 5-6)
    Antonio Missiroli

    For a long time, our use of space was limited and incremental: first it was for national security, then for telecommunications. Now our societies are almost entirely reliant on space systems for all kinds of technologies – from GPS to the ATM, from phone calls to gas pipelines. Almost every cutting-edge technology being adopted in highly-developed economies increases their dependency on space-based (and mostly unprotected) systems. In military terms, such dependency is even stronger: take precision weaponry, drone surveillance and real-time field communications. With the number of countries and players interested in space capabilities growing, outer space risks being exposed...

  2. (pp. 13-20)

    In the beginning of the Space Age, marked by the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957, outer space was an arena for strategic competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. During much of the Cold War, space programmes were demonstrations of technological superiority and a means to gain international prestige. As the two superpowers came to understand both the utility and the risks of using outer space for military purposes, they sought to regulate some aspects of space activities to avoid the danger of an arms race in space. While continuing to expand their space activities, they began...

  3. (pp. 21-36)

    Modern societies are highly dependent on the continuous operation of critical infrastructure to ensure the provision of basic goods and services. They consist of assets, systems or parts thereof which are so vital, that their disruption would significantly impact the economy, national security, public health, safety, or social well-being. Examples of critical infrastructure include energy, water, food supply, communication, transportation, and waste processing systems.

    Space assets are so deeply embedded in developed economies that a day without fully functioning space capabilities would severely restrict or even endanger our lives. Space systems are critical for running energy grids and telecommunication networks,...

  4. (pp. 37-52)

    This chapter outlines the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of some key EU space activities, including connections with broader European security issues. It addresses the evolution and governance of these activities, and investigates the security challenges and responses related to the initiation, design and operation of particular space-related programmes. These include strategic non-dependence, the integration of resilience/protection into the design and operation of space programmes, and the challenges of data policy – its collection, management, protection and related sovereignty issues.

    European space activities can be categorised as national, EU, ESA or multilateral cooperative programmes. Europe has independently developed programmes in all...

  5. (pp. 53-68)

    After almost 60 years of human activity, outer space is relatively lightly regulated. The UN Outer Space Treaty was signed in 1967, one year before the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and forms the primary foundation for outer space law. It addresses both arms control issues, the primary focus at the time of its creation, as well as conduct issues – how states operate in outer space. In particular, it bans the placement of nuclear weapons in space, requires states to avoid contamination of space, and makes states responsible for their space activities and liable for damages. All major space powers...

  6. (pp. 69-78)

    Efforts to improve the security of space assets and the sustainability of space activities can be best facilitated where clear policies and a supportive strategic framework are in place. Strategic thinking about space security should take into account the different roles that space plays for European economy, security, autonomy and unity. A clear and shared European strategic approach to space security can provide a pillar around which institutions, member states, and industries may articulate and calibrate their own policies, activities and priorities, connecting these ideas to the capabilities and resources available. It can help drive cooperation among different European space...

  7. (pp. 79-88)

    Within Europe, there are multiple areas where the impact achieved by individual member states acting alone is likely to be insufficient, and where improved integration on a European level makes sense. There is a particular window of opportunity now for more integrated European efforts since the security and sustainability threats facing space actors are increasingly seen as common challenges for which common responses are appropriate. There has also been a move towards greater comfort with dual-use approaches and increased partnerships between civilian and military space actors, without undermining the core, sometimes separate, interests of either group. Action at the European...