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Tuesday Jan 12 2021

EU to pursue 'offensive' strategy for space access independent of US, China

European Commissioner Thierry Breton attends a hearing before the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, November 14, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/Files

  • EU working on competitive strategy to prevent being muscled out by technology from the United States and China
  • EU has in the past had success with Ariane rockets or GPS-rival satnav Galileo
  • European Commissioner Thierry Breton says he believes the EU needs "a more offensive and aggressive strategy".

BRUSSELS: The European Union would be pursuing a more dynamic and competitive strategy for access to space, independent of other nations, an EU official said Tuesday, adding that the bloc wished to prevent itself being muscled out by launcher technology of the United States and China.

Over the past decades, Europe has sought to build independent access to space from US and Russian pioneers to help its industry, with successes such as Ariane rockets or GPS-rival satnav Galileo. But the EU now hopes to set up its alliance with industry this year.

"We must ask ourselves: will our current approach successfully get us to 2050, considering the disruptions in the sector that we all observe? I strongly doubt it, and I believe we need a more offensive and aggressive strategy," European Commissioner Thierry Breton, whose brief include the space sector, told a conference.

"I will therefore gather in the next months all the actors to initiate a European Launcher alliance to be able to jointly define...a common roadmap for the next generation of launchers and technologies relevant to ensure an autonomous access to space," Breton said.

Breton said the alliance would be made up of industry, European Union governments, lawmakers, and the European Space Agency (ESA), among others.

The recent emergence of US competitor SpaceX and its reusable rockets as well as China's rapid advances, including the first ever landing on the far side of the Moon, is giving new urgency to Europe's ambitions.

After investing 12 billion euros in space activities between 2014 to 2020, the bloc aims to spend almost 15 billion euros for the 2021-2027 period, although the plans still need final approval by EU governments and the European Parliament.