The EU is one of the major space actors in the world and, like other principal space faring nations, relies on an independent access to space system for implementing its space policy. Indeed, for more than thirty years, the European launcher Ariane has guaranteed the success of numerous institutional and commercial missions, both for civil and military purposes. Given the importance of the EU’s space policy for the effectiveness of the Union’s internal and external action, an autonomous, reliable and cost-effective access to space is a fundamental and strategic necessity. This paper presents the main challenges faced by European institutions and industry in maintaining an independent access to space. As satellite technology quickly evolves and new space competitors rise, the EU needs to step up its launch capabilities and to effectively confront international competition. To these ends, the main European space actors must renew their approach to the policy on access to space, in particular by addressing the problems affecting the launch company Arianespace, for which the paper provides policy options.
Translated and revised version of an analytical report prepared within the framework of the International Relations Observatory project: La politica europea di accesso allo spazio. Sviluppi futuri e ruolo dell’Italia, Rome, Senato della Repubblica, June 2011 (Approfondimenti dell'Osservatorio di politica internazionale ; 36).
2. The origins of European policy on access to space
3. The challenge of renovation
4. The challenge of international competition
5. The governance and finance aspect