European Space Policy: Actors, Objectives and Processes

Foreign Policy, July-August 2009 | Go to article overview

European Space Policy: Actors, Objectives and Processes


For nearly half a century, Europe has been actively involved in developing space technology through national and European programs. The European Space Agency (ESA), an intergovernmental agency, was launched in 1975 to promote European cooperation in space.

In 2003, the European Commission--the EU's executive arm--and ESA formally joined forces, drawing on each other's complementary strengths to further advance European space applications, exploration, research, and technology in the 21st century.

The European Commission drives the exploitation of space for the benefit of its citizens; ensures the continuity of relevant operational services; develops appropriate regulatory frameworks; and coordinates and promotes a single European position in international forums.

ESA and its 18 member countries--including 16 of the 27 EU Member States--are responsible for the conception and implementation of space programs, space-related scientific research, and the procurement of resources needed for space activities, particularly access to space and technology.

The European Space Policy, drafted jointly by the European Commission and ESA, outlines a unified European vision for the space sector. The policy strives to develop and exploit space applications that serve the needs of Europe; address space-related security and defense issues; apply space technology to improved understanding of climate change; foster a strong and competitive space industry; ensure independent, cost-effective access to space; and promote a European initiative in space exploration.

Through the European Space Policy, Europe has increased its coordination with international partners. For example, the European Commission and ESA jointly represent Europe in cooperation with other strategic partners and closely coordinate European participation in intergovernmental forums such as the Group on Earth Observations (GEO).

Europe's Launch Capabilities

Independent and cost-effective access to space is a strategic priority for Europe, and Europe has its own range of launch vehicles capable of launching the smallest scientific satellite or the heaviest commercial communications device from ESA's Kourou spaceport.

Ariane. Europe's independent adventure in space began on December 24, 1979, with the successful launch of Ariane 1, ESA's first heavy lifter. Today, Ariane 5 is used to launch satellites into geostationary transfer orbit, medium and low earth orbits, sun-synchronous orbits, and earth-escape trajectories. All versions of the Ariane 5 consist of a central core with two solid rocket boosters attached; the actual launch configuration can be adapted to specific satellite and trajectory requirements.

Vega. Small launchers like Europe's new Vega are necessary for the cost-effective placement of smaller satellites into the polar and low-earth orbits used for many scientific and earth observation missions. The most recent addition to Europe's series of launch vehicles, Vega was designed as a single body launcher with three solid propulsion stages and an additional liquid propulsion upper module used for positioning, orbit control, and satellite release. Unlike most small launchers, Vega will be able to place multiple payloads into orbit, making access to space easier, quicker, and cheaper. The first launch is expected in 2009.

Soyuz. In 2009, a Russian Soyuz launcher will lift off for the first time from a spaceport other than Baikonur, Kazakhstan or Plesetsk, Russia. The Soyuz rocket, expected to launch from Kourou, has been transporting cosmonauts into space since the 1950s. Soyuz, along with the U.S. space shuttle, ensures the continued transport of crews to and from the International Space Station. Soyuz 2, a medium-class launcher, will be able to carry up to three tons of cargo into geostationary transfer orbit from Kourou.

The International Space Station and Human Space Exploration

The International Space Station (ISS) is an unprecedented, state-of-the-art orbiting laboratory complex that enables scientists to push the envelope of space research well beyond current boundaries. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

European Space Policy: Actors, Objectives and Processes


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.