Horizon 2020: increase the role of space in the future while reaping benefits now

18 Dec 2013 | News
Space research will move from intellectual curiosity to providing the underpinnings of a major industrial sector, if the Horizon 2020 work programme bears fruit

Space research will be supported under "Industrial Leadership" in Horizon 2020. This is in line with the main objective of fostering a cost-effective, competitive space industry and research community, to develop and exploit space infrastructure 

Building on the successes of the Seventh Framework Programme, Horizon 2020 will enable the European space research community to develop technologies and operational concepts from idea to demonstration, and to use space data for scientific, public, or commercial applications. 

Research will be carried out in conjunction with research activities of Member States and of the European Space Agency, backed by a system of enhanced coordination.

The Commission has coined the following motto for EU Space R&D for 2014 to 2020: ‘Prepare for the increasing role of space in the future and reap the benefits of space now’. 

The work programme will do this by: 

Prioritising the existing EU European Global Navigation Satellite System (EGNSS) and Earth Observation, to reap the benefits they generate in the coming years and ensure they remain up to date in the future; 

Support for the third priority of the EU space policy, which is the protection of space infrastructure and the setting up of a Space Surveillance and Tracking system at European level; 
Providing support to EU industry to meet the objectives defined in the Commission’s Space Industrial Policy, to maintain and enhance industry’s competitiveness and its value-chain in the global market; 

Ensuring Europe’s investments made in space infrastructure are exploited to the benefit of citizens and in supporting European space science;  

Enhancing Europe’s standing as attractive partner for international partnerships in space science and exploration. 

Applications in Satellite Navigation - Galileo1 

The European Global Navigation Satellite System (EGNSS), encompasses the satellite radio-navigation system established under the Galileo programme and European Geostationary Overlay System (EGNOS). The Galileo programme will provide GNSS services and increase availability and reliability of other GNSS, while ensuring Europe maintains an independent system.

Horizon 2020 will foster the further uptake of EGNSS in applications; prepare for secure utilisation; and oversee the future evolution of the EGNSS infrastructure. 

These Horizon 2020 activities are complementary to the funding of the infrastructure and the operations of the EGNSS, which will come from the budget of the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the implementation and exploitation of European satellite navigation systems. 

To meet the overall objectives of the Galileo programme and to foster the uptake of EGNOS and Galileo, the development of applications is vital. New satellite navigation applications are being developed every day, covering numerous sectors of the world economy. The expected global market will reach €240 billion by 2020. The Horizon 2020 Space research programme will give European industry the opportunity to acquire knowledge and expertise required to compete in the international environment.

The Commission will devote €38 million to the call in 2014 and €25 million in 2015.

Earth Observation 

The last decade has seen the establishment of capacity for space observation and operational services in the field of environment and environmental management, climate change, civil protection and security. Operational satellites are providing data on a free and open data policy and are complemented by first-of-a-kind research satellites. 

Horizon 2020 will be supporting the maintenance of pre-operational services until end of 2014, fostering the development of uptake of Earth Observation data in applications and commercial exploitation. 

In 2014 and 2015, scientific, operational and commercial exploitation of the existing and emergent European space infrastructure needs to be enhanced, by stimulating the emergence of novel ideas on what can be observed from space, and what information might still be hidden in existing Earth Observation data of various kinds. 

This call is limited to 2014, with €21.5 million available

Protection of European assets in and from space 

This concerns space weather and Near Earth Objects (NEOs). Action to support the emergence of a Space Surveillance and Tracking capacity at European level will be dealt with in the call ‘Other actions’. 

With increasing dependence on space-based services, the ability to protect space infrastructures has become essential. Any shutdown of even a part of space infrastructures could have significant consequences for the economy and safety, and would impair the provision of emergency services. 

Space radiation and particles can damage spacecraft and ground infrastructure, such as power grids and telecom networks. Space Weather activity aims at understanding, monitoring and forecasting such phenomena, to mitigate and prevent them. 

There will be a coordinated international effort to predict and mitigate the threats of NEOs including asteroid and comets. There is €8 million in the 2014 budget to begin this work.

Competitiveness of the European Space Sector: Technology and Science 

The overarching objective of this call is to contribute at a European level, in conjunction with Member States and the European Space Agency, to the safeguarding and further development of a competitive, independent space industry. This will require advances in space technologies and operational concepts from idea to demonstration in representative terrestrial environments and/or in space. 

Competitiveness of European space industry is strongly dependent on performance in a global market. The ability to react to contract opportunities world-wide for satellites is a critical success factor, and depends on ready access for integrators to subsystem and equipment capacities in Europe. 

Subsystems and/or equipment have to be technologically mature and be accompanied by adequate production rates. European focus in future space technologies, beyond the current state of the art, needs to be strengthened along the entire technology-readiness chain.

Technologies that can be re-used enhance industrial competitiveness, and research on modular, reusable elements is therefore encouraged. Standardisation of such modular components by existing initiatives such as the European Space Components Coordination (ESCC) and the European Cooperation for Space Standardisation (ECSS), and their interfaces across Europe will optimise the investments and will facilitate access to emerging commercial markets. 

Synergies will be sought with ongoing work with ESA in the area of technology standardisation.

The overall budget for this call is €52 million in 2014.

Coordination and support actions 

There is a specific call for action to facilitate trans-national co-operation between National Contact Points in the Space domain, to identify and share good practices and raise the standard of support for programme applicants.

Support will be given to a consortium of National Contact Points working together on aspects such as benchmarking, joint workshops, enhanced cross-border brokerage events and specific training linked to Space research.

The Commission considers that one proposal requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of €2 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. 

Earth Observation 

New commercial geo-spatial products are enabled by space data, and directly enhance the competitiveness of the European geo-information service sector. This will also further validate the premise that space systems produce information complementary to in-situ data, which often cannot be acquired in any other way. This is key to getting a return on the major space investments made in Earth Observation space infrastructure, and validating EU investments made.

€26 million will be made available to develop new application of geo-spatial data in 2015.

Competitiveness of European Space Technology 

The space sector is a strategic asset contributing to the independence, security and prosperity of Europe and its role in the world. Europe needs independent access to critical space technologies to achieve its strategic objectives. 

Reaching independence in certain technologies will open new markets and increase the overall competitiveness of the European Space sector. Activities to be proposed in this call will address technologies identified on the list of urgent actions as part of a task force on Critical Technologies (Excerpt from Critical Space Technologies for European Strategic Non-Dependence – List of Urgent Actions for 2012/2013 – June 2012 and the update for the 2015 call http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/space/research), focusing on those areas that have not so far benefitted from Framework Programme funding and which can be addressed through the co-funding instruments available in Horizon 2020. 

A total of €36.5 million will be available under this call in 2015.

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