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Support for EU involvement in space exploration

The EU should get involved in space exploration alongside the European Space Agency and individual countries, say most respondents to a public consultation.

The European Commission gathered 608 responses to the “Public Consultation concerning a possible EU Space Programme” between January and March 2011, and published the results earlier this month.

Over two-thirds of respondents said that EU should get involved in space exploration because it would boost scientific progress.

Other most-cited reasons include “inspiring younger generations” and playing a political role in coordinating space exploration endeavours.

However, 13 per cent of respondents said that the EU should not get involved because space exploration was a matter only for interested countries and the ESA, or because the EU had more pressing priorities (11 per cent).

If it did get into space exploration, the EU should combine robotic and human exploration activities, said 58 per cent of respondents.

Also, a vast majority of respondents said the EU should develop its own capacity to protect its satellites.

Possible disruptions of satellite navigation and earth observation services were the most important concerns.

Most respondents were individuals (about 40 per cent) or academic institutions (30 per cent); 19 per cent of respondents were based in Germany, 18 per cent in France and 14 per cent in Belgium.

About a third of responses came from people not involved in professional space activities.