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AMEC Earth & Environmental Inc. won the 2005 IT business achievement award of Environmental Business International.

AMEC Earth & Environmental Inc. won the 2005 IT business
achievement award of Environmental Business International for
developing market leadership in the use of space-based Interferometric
Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) technology to locate and predict land
subsidence and earth fissure threats to dams, utilities, mines,
highways and other infrastructure. InSAR utilizes satellite data
acquired at two different times along orbits of a similar trajectory to
detect minute changes in the ground surface. Under a
technology-demonstration contract with the European Space Agency and
through the development of centers of excellence in Western Canada and
the Southwestern United States, AMEC has assisted clients worldwide.
AMECps InSAR projects include Palabora Mine in South Africa, McMicken
Dam near Phoenix, Ariz., a pipeline corridor in British Columbia,
Hayden Hill Mine in California, an underground utility pipeline network
in Arizona, and railways in Germany for Die Bahn and in the United
Kingdom for Network Rail, among others. AMEC also is using InSAR as
part of an early-warning system for landslides at Turtle Mountain in
Alberta, Canada. InSAR does not depend on the deployment of crews into
the field and therefore is highly valuable for acquiring information at
remote sites or areas considered unsafe for personnel to enter.
(Credits AMEC)
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Since the 1990‘s, ESA‘s approach to observing the Earth from space has
been dedicated to furthering our understanding of how Earth processes
work, monitoring climate change indicators, testing new observational
techniques and making contributions to operational meteorology. It is
now time to take stock of what has been achieved, but more importantly
look to the future to ensure that ESA continues to provide the best
possible service to its users.

To this end, a framework for a new Earth observation strategy has
been developed and follows on from the previous guideline strategy the
“Science & Research Elements of the Living Planet Programme” (ESA
SP-1227) established in 1998. The new strategy will be presented to the
science community at a meeting entitled ‘The Changing Earth, Scientific
Challenges for ESA’s Living Planet Programme Strategy Workshop’.
The aim of the workshop, which will be
held at ESA-ESRIN, in Frascati, Italy on 15-16 February 2006, is to
open the forum to the science community to provide their feedback on
research areas to focus on in the next phases of the Programme. This
approach is fundamental to the Living Planet Programme, which aims at
the development of Earth Observation Missions in close cooperation with
the scientific community.
Over the last 8 years, six Earth Explorer
mission concepts have been developed to provide us with a wealth of
invaluable data about the Earth, its climate and changing environment.
Despite the loss of the CryoSat mission in October last year, the Earth
Explorer missions are still on track to help satisfy our quest for
knowledge about the Earth. In addition to this research component, the
Living Planet Programme incorporates an Earth Watch element designed to
facilitate the delivery of data for use in operational services – such
as meteorological missions and new missions focusing on the environment
and civil security under GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and
Although the framework for the new Living
Planet strategy addresses the scientific challenges through the areas
of oceans, atmosphere, cryosphere and the Earth interior, it is
apparent that none of these areas can be dealt with in isolation. None
of the major Earth science disciplines, when studied at global scales
and over different timescales, can be separated from other disciplines.
Real understanding of the Earth system must come from connecting
different processes. In addition, understanding and monitoring the
impact that nature and human activity are having on the Earth system is
vital if we are to ever correctly predict the effect of a changing
The workshop will be a cornerstone in the
evolution of what is already a successful programme, and will help in
consolidating the strategy. It shall assure that the future of
observing the Earth from space is as meaningful and useful as possible,
providing the answers to the many questions we have about our
For more information about attending the workshop please click here

Five international partnerships have recently been awarded funding
through ESA’s TIGER Innovators project to develop new ways of applying
Earth Observation data as a tool for water resource management in

ESA launched the TIGER Initiative in 2002 following the World
Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. Focusing on the use
of space technology in water resource management in Africa, the primary
objective of TIGER is to help African countries overcome problems faced
in the collection, analysis and dissemination of water related
geo-information by exploiting the advantages of Earth Observation
technology. More than 200 African water basin authorities, universities
and other organisations have become involved in TIGER projects across
the continent.
Existing activities have now been bolstered by a new type of project
called TIGER Innovators. These are aimed at developing innovative,
low-cost solutions to support African water authorities in the
conservation and monitoring of scarce water resources.
Utilising the latest Earth Observation technology and Geographical
Information Systems these North-South partnerships involving
European/Canadian and African organisations are intended to tackle a
range of different water-related issues across the African continent.
The five TIGER Innovators projects have been funded by the Data User
Element (DUE) of the Earth Observation Envelope Programme of ESA
(EOEP-2 DUE) with an overall budget of 500 000 Euro.
SHARE (Soil Moisture for
Hydrometeorological Applications in the SADC Region) will provide an
effective soil moisture monitoring service for the entire Southern
African Development Community (SADC). The project team combines
expertise in soil moisture remote sensing from Vienna University of
Technology with specialists in hydro-meteorological applications from
University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa.
Despite holding only a small percentage
of the total global water budget, soil moisture plays an important role
in the global water cycle. Data obtained from ESA’s ERS-2 Scatterometer
and Envisat‘s ASAR sensors will form the basis of a new soil moisture
information system.
The ERS-2 Scatterometer uses three
antennas to illuminate the Earth‘s surface in three different
directions and derive low-resolution active microwave data. The
incidence angle of each signal bounced back to the instrument is
dependent upon the relative moisture content of the soil and the
vegetation, the vegetation type and surface roughness. An increase in
angle signifies an increase in soil moisture content, surface
roughness, and vegetation biomass. Whereas the Scatterometer provides
coarse-resolution data, ASAR can achieve a higher resolution, thereby
enhancing the overall accuracy of the data.
The improved resolution of the system
will provide the team with quick and detailed information, accurate to
within 1 km. “With this service, SHARE will address today’s most severe
obstacle in water resource management which is the lack of availability
of reliable soil moisture information on a dynamic basis at a frequency
of a week and less,” said Dr. Klaus Scipal of Vienna University of
A major benefit of the project will be
the availability of soil moisture data for use and distribution amongst
water authorities in the region.
“The long-term vision of SHARE is to
supply soil moisture information for the entire African continent, run
by African partners, posted on the web, freely accessible to all,” Dr.
Scipal said. The primary users of these products will be the South
African Weather Service and the South African Agricultural Research
This project is aimed at developing a basic
information system for monitoring the Zambezi river catchment area.
Geographic Information Management in Belgium will be working together
with the University of Zambia, the Zambian water authorities and
workers at the SADC Regional Remote Sensing Unit to alleviate water
shortage problems in this area of Zambia.
Using data from ESA’s multispectral MERIS
sensor on Envisat as well as Landsat imagery, IWAREMA (Integrated Water
Resource management for Zambia) Zambia will provide local researchers
and politicians with the necessary tools for effective water resource
management. Satellite imagery will be used to generate a variety of
maps depicting existing water resources, suitable dam locations and
land cover as well as forming the basis of information bulletins for
local policy-makers.
The local team consists of workers from
the Ministry of Energy and Water Development through the Department of
Water Affairs, the University of Zambia and specific departments of
other responsible Ministries.
Lake Water Quality in Egypt
This project is aimed at designing,
developing and implementing a system for monitoring the water quality
of Lake Manzalah in Egypt. Leading the project will be members of the
engineering company C-CORE, based in Canada, in collaboration with
Egyptian water authorities and consultants from the Finnish Environment
Institute and Canada.
An essential source of freshwater in the
region, the demand on Lake Manzalah has been strained over recent years
owing to increased competition from domestic, industrial and
agricultural users. Accurate and reliable data on the condition of the
lake will be extracted using satellite imagery to monitor key
indicators of water quality such as turbidity, algal blooms and the
presence of invasive plant species.
“Responding to urgent user requirements,
the Earth Observation-based water quality products will represent an
up-scaling in space and time of the conventional field measurements and
will capture the spatiotemporal variability of critical lake water
parameters more accurately then the current monitoring programme,”
reports Mr. Puestow, of C-CORE.
As well as determining how and where the
pollution occurred, this data will be utilised by Egyptian water
authorities in their efforts to prevent further pollution of this
valuable resource.
WADE (Water resources Assessment using SAR
in Desert and arid lands in West African Ecosystems) will map
sub-surface, man-made water structures and surface water as a means of
combating the effects of desertification. In collaboration with a
consortium of desertification experts known as AGRHYMET, workers at
Advanced Computer Systems (ACS spa) in Rome will use Synthetic Aperture
Radar (SAR) imagery to explore underground and superficial water
The advantage of using SAR technology
over other tools is that it is both relatively cheap and is capable of
covering a wide surface area.
“The availability of an advanced
technological tool for water resources detection and mapping can
represent a significant improvement for sustainable water management,”
said Gaetano Pace, Project Manager at ACS Spa.
The team will be working closely with
AGRHYMET to map buried water-related artefacts such as wells, foggaras
(a type of ancient irrigation system) and channels in a selected area.
Both the technology and the necessary skills will ultimately be
transferred to local authorities.
Potentially covering an area of hundreds
of square kilometres, this new technology will enable local workers to
pinpoint human-made water features to within 20-30 metres. This
information will help local water authorities and institutions to draw
up effective plans to conserve resources in the region and understand
seasonal natural water dynamics.
Lake Victoria
Bordering the countries of Uganda, Kenya
and Tanzania, Lake Victoria is the largest source of fresh water in
Africa. The economic value of the Lake is well established, as is the
sensitive nature of its environmental condition. For these reasons, all
three countries are committed to monitoring the threats and gaining an
accurate inventory of the contents of this vast and essential resource.
In collaboration with Nairobi’s Regional
Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development, workers at Vexcel in
The Netherlands will use data derived from Earth Observation satellites
to form an information system that monitors both the quality and quantity of water.
“Goals are to develop dedicated products
and services and to build capacity at the three institutes to ensure
that expertise is made available to implement these data structurally,”
reports Léon Schouten, Project Manager at Vexcel.
Beneficiaries of the scheme will include
the Fisheries Resources Research Institute in Uganda, Kenya Marine and
Fisheries Research Institute and the Tanzania Fisheries Research
Institute. Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization and other water
management authorities will also receive valuable information and
training through this project.
(Credits ESA)

“Space technology for sustainable development and disaster management: opportunities within the United Nations system”

VIENNA, 17 January (UN Information Service)
open informal session on “Space technology for sustainable development
and disaster management: opportunities within the United Nations
system”, was chaired on the afternoon of 20 January at the headquarters
of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO) in Paris. The session took place immediately after the 26th
annual session of the United Nations Inter-Agency Meeting on Outer
Space Activities, from 18 to 20 January.
The purpose of this informal open session
was to exchange views and information between Member States and
observers of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer
Space (COPUOS) and United Nations entities, on activities and
initiatives of the UN system in sustainable development and disaster
management that involve space technology.
Member States had the opportunity to
familiarize themselves with initiatives such as the International
Charter “Space and Major Disasters”, as well as the UNESCO Space
Education Programme and the Open Initiative on the Use of Space
Technology in Support of the World Heritage Convention.
The UN Inter-Agency Meeting on Outer
Space Activities convenes annually, since 1975, to discuss current and
future activities, emergent space technologies of interest and other
related matters. The Meeting reports on its deliberations to COPUOS.
The Meeting also compiles, on behalf of the UN Secretary-General, a
report on the coordinated space-related activities of the UN system,
which serves as a strategic tool for UN entities to further enhance
inter-agency cooperation and avoid duplication of efforts related to
the use of various space applications.
Open informal sessions for the Member
States and observers of COPUOS have been held by the Inter-Agency
Meeting since 2004 to provide a constructive mechanism for an active
dialogue between the entities of the UN system and Member States of
COPUOS. Representatives from the following countries and UN entities
are expected to participate in the open informal session: Australia,
Belgium, Czech Republic, Colombia, France, Germany, Mexico, Nigeria,
Syria, Ukraine, United States, United Nations Department of
Peacekeeping Operations, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs,
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Secretariat for the
International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, World Food Programme,
UNOSAT, UNESCO and the World Meteorological Organization.
The United Nations Office for Outer Space
Affairs (OOSA) implements the decisions of the General Assembly and of
the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its two
Subcommittees, the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the Legal
Subcommittee. The Office is responsible for promoting international
cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, and assisting
developing countries in using space science and technology. Located in
Vienna, Austria, OOSA maintains a website at
For information contact:
Qais Sultan
Associate Programme Officer
Telephone: +43 1 26060-4962
United Nations Information Service
Vienna (UNIS)
P.O.Box 500, A-1400 Vienna, Austria
Tel.: +43 1 260 60 – 3430;
Fax: +43 1 260 60 7 5899
For more information click here

Following one of the recommendations contained in the Communication on”
European Space Policy: Preliminary Elements” of 23 May 2005 and in
compliance with orientations of the second Space Council, the Unit in
charge of Space Policy within Directorate General Enterprise and
Industry has organised a consultation of a panel of industrialists.

The panel of industry representatives was including participants
from all types of companies: large system integrators, SMEs, operators,
service companies, added value services providers, …)
discussion was based on the elements listed in the Communication for
which five position papers had been prepared. These papers were
covering the following topics:
On the regulatory issues, the participants
agreed that better European regulations in fields like spectrum
allocations or delivering of licences for space-based telecommunication
systems might be necessary.
Concerning the standardisation,
recognising that many activities were already undertaken by industry,
the Commission has prepared a draft mandate which will be placed with
standardisation authorities like CEN, CENELEC and ETSI. The
participants agreed that the Commission might take measures to
streamline the standardisation process which is still felt too long and
resource consuming, and therefore not accessible to all companies,
particularly SMEs.
On the procurement policy and use of
industrial return in the ESA context, while recognising that the
current process has enabled the development of a competitive European
space industry, the Commission indicated that it would initiate an
impact study.
More info at:
Space Council
(Credits Europa)

The EC has conducted the first in a series of 3 user workshops to
define initial Europe-wide pilot services within the GMES (Global
Monitoring for Environment and Security) initiative.

The EC has conducted the first in a series of 3 user workshops to define initial Europe-wide pilot services within the GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) initiative. The Councilof the Member States has requested that a first set of widely accepted services be operational by 2008. The event on Land Monitoring, which took place in Brussels on 20 and 21 October, attracted the fullest possible range of participation with 100 representative contributors from 22 European countries and from European services themselves. User domains included environment,urban planning, mapping and surveying, agriculture, car navigation, security and others involving both, public and private service provision agencies.

Chairman Prof. Dietmar Grünreich, president of the German Federal Agency of Cartography and Geodesy (BKG) and past president of the EurogeographicsAssociation opened the event by expressing expectations that the Land Monitoring service would bring three dimensions to meet: The first one extends between environmental and topographic standards of land inventory, the second from small (continental Europe) to large (local) scale, and the thirdone from providing access to both, original satellite images aswell as a cross-border coherent, value-added land-cover / land-use information for the various European user communities.

Participants welcomed the initiative taken by the European Unionand agreed with the two prime elements of the core service, an Earth Observation and a Land Information component. As to the first there were high expectations raised with regard to the integration of new and continuously available satellite images as well as in-situ data (the importance of the EU INSPIRE initiative was frequently stressed in this context). For the second there is rich experience available throughout Europe from the CORINE Land- Cover inventories carried out around 1990 and 2000, but requirements addressed an increase in the level of detail and accuracy as well as the updating speed, and a local complement was supportedin addition (urban areas and other “hot spots”of interest or sensitivity). Towards this end, topographic reference data (digital terrain models and object-structured landscape models) and satellite images (multispectraland radar) have to be brought together.

To enhance these requirements practical examples of customised downstream services were presented which could profit from the core service. These included environment, resources and investment management, city planning, car navigation etc. While sponsored out of ESA, EC and Member States budgets as GMES precursor projects, some of them showed already manifest user commitment in addition, such as in the development of a new planning tool for the province of Treviso/Italy becoming of relevance in meeting new legal regulations for territorial and city management.

Users emphasised the necessity to broaden further the GMES user base (from 170 to 3000 as was requested in one project) and opted, during the implementation of the pilot service, for closeinteraction between EU and Member States. The latter will, withtheir existing in-situ data and technical contributions to the work, ensure quality and efficiency. A conclusion document from the workshop, the draft of which had undergone a prior open email discussion, will be amended with the inputs received and a representative user group will follow up the implementation steps.

Press Release- WS, ENTR-H3, 26-10-05

The International Charter on ‘Space and Major Disasters’, a cooperation
initiative created between the European Space Agency (ESA), the
National Centre on Space Studies of France (CNES) and the Canadian
Space Agency (CSA) has completed five years.

To mark the completion of five years, Indian Space Research
Organisation (ISRO) has conducted a Special Session with ISRO Chairman
Dr G Madhavan Nair presiding over. ISRO Secretary DOS Mr Jean-Luc
Bessis of CNES has delivered Keynote address on ‘Disaster Management.
Charter functionaries from CNES, CONAE, CSA, ESA, ISRO, JAXA,
NOAA, UN, USGS and DMC have also participated in the two-day proceedings.
The participants have deliberated on the
impact of the Charter, its performance, capabilities of Remote Sensing
for disaster Management, the response to recent disasters etc.
The Charter has been providing access to
value added earth observation satellite data from all parties to
countries whose populations are exposed to risk or have been affected
by a natural or technological disaster. Since November 2000, the
Charter has been activated more than 80 times to assist in emergencies
such as floods, fires, landslides, typhoons, violence eruptions, oil
spills, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes and civil accidents which
have occurred all around the globe.
With a
low response time of 38-48 hours and by facilitating high reliability
data, the Charter has proved the effectiveness of space information for
emergency management.
During December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami
disaster in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand no less than 200
sensor images received from satellites owned or operated by the Charter
members were distributed. The Charter also provided space information
in the Hurricane Katrina during which levees were breached and flood
waters submerged the City of New Orleans on August 29-2005.

The European Commission has adopted a new framework for a strategic
partnership between the European Union and Africa. (MDGs).

The European Commission has adopted a new framework for a
strategic partnership between the European Union and Africa. It sets
out the way on how to support Africa‘s efforts to get the continent
back on track towards sustainable development and attain the Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs). It focuses on key requirements for
sustainable development such as peace and security, good and effective
governance, trade, interconnectivity, social cohesion and environmental
sustainability. In addition, it reaffirms the commitment to increase EU
aid to Africa and to improve aid effectiveness.
The Strategy focuses on the key requirements without which sustainable
development in Africa will not be possible: peace, security and good
governance. It subsequently looks into action on key areas that create
the necessary economic environment for development such as economic
growth, trade and infrastructure. Finally, the strategy pushes for
investing into areas with an important and direct impact on the
fulfilment of the MDGs such as health and education, sanitation, and
Space policy has been identified as a
tool in support of sustainable development in Africa. Many Africans
rely heavily on natural resources for their subsistence, particularly
in times of crisis, for example during famines or conflicts or in the
wake of natural disasters. However, Africa‘s environment is fragile and
prone to water shortages, climate change and desertification. Current
population growth and agricultural expansion have caused land shortages
and the intensification of agriculture has contributed to further land
degradation. An estimated 65 million people living in or near forests
depend on forest production for their livelihood. These forests are now
coming under increasing pressure for commercial exploitation. The EU
will therefore assist Africa to protect its environment, one of its
most valuable assets.
The European Commission has already
invested in this field. The Meteorological Transition in Africa Project
(PUMA), has just been finalised, and will be followed by the African
Monitoring of the Environment for Sustainable Development (AMESD) which
will be the African counterpart of the GMES initiative.
Through these projects and in
implementing the principles laid down in the Communication, the
European Commission will start a dialogue with the African Union
Commission in order to assess how space technologies can be best used
to support development policies in Africa, first in the field of
environment, but also in the field of telecommunication (i.e. through
tele-education projects, …) or of positioning (i.e. extension of the
EGNOS system towards Africa).
(Credits Europa)

On 12 October, the United Nations observed the International Day for
Natural Disaster Reduction, which is held annually on the second
Wednesday in October.

An important but not very widely known aspect of natural disaster
reduction is the role played by space technology. Making the benefits
of space technology, in particular satellite applications, available to
all countries, including developing nations, in order to mitigate the
devastation caused by natural disasters, is one of the activities of
the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA).
Remote sensing by satellite of the area
afflicted by a disaster (such as a flood, storm or earthquake) can
provide information needed to assess the extent of damage caused, and
forecast the expected further spread of the disaster to other areas, as
well as provide vital information for search and rescue operations.
Satellite technology can also be used to enable communication in the
affected area if on-ground infrastructure has collapsed. Such solutions
are already an integral part of disaster management activities in many
developed and even developing countries. Within the framework of the
United Nations Programme on Space Applications, OOSA has held several
workshops on the use of space technology for disaster management, to
incorporate the use of space technologies into operational disaster
management programmes around the world.
Following the devastating earthquake of
7.6-magnitude on the Richter scale, that struck Pakistan, India and
Afghanistan last Saturday, pre- and post-disaster satellite images of
the afflicted area are being made available for rescue efforts by the
United Nations through the International Charter Space and Major
Disasters, which aims at providing a unified system of space data
acquisition and delivery, through authorised users, to those affected
by natural or man-made disasters.
OOSA‘s status as a co-operating body to
the International Charter since August 2003, has enabled the UN system,
by means of a permanent hotline set up by OOSA, to request data from
seven satellite operators through the Charter in response to emergency
situations. The Charter has been activated 21 times by the United
Nations since August 2003, for floods and landslides in China, the
Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Guyana, Haiti, Kenya, Namibia, Nepal,
Pakistan and the Philippines, for hurricane and typhoon aftermaths in
Grenada, Haiti and the Philippines, for earthquakes in Afghanistan,
India, Iran and Morocco, a train disaster in North Korea, the Indian
Ocean tsunami and most recently for the floods and landslides in
Central America following Hurricane Stan and for the earthquake in the
India-Pakistan border region.
In 2001, the United Nations General
Assembly decided to observe the International Day for Natural Disaster
Reduction as a vehicle to promote a global culture of natural disaster
reduction – including disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness.
Such a global culture would significantly reduce the dramatic
visibility of relief efforts and the loss of lives and livelihoods due
to natural disasters.
The United Nations Office for Outer Space
Affairs (OOSA) implements the decisions of the General Assembly and of
the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its two
Subcommittees, the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the Legal
Subcommittee. The Office is responsible for promoting international
co-operation in the peaceful uses of outer space, and assisting
developing countries in using space science and technology.
(Credits UN-OOSA and spaceref)

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has published a report advising governments to use space technology more wisely in order to address civil needs.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
has published a report advising governments to use space technology
more wisely in order to address civil needs.

Space technology can be used in
particular to tackle five major challenges, according to the report:
environmental problems, including natural disasters; the use of natural
resources; the increasing mobility of goods and people; growing
security threats; and the development of the information society. And
in order to make the most of this technology‘s potential, it is
recommended that governments do three broad things: implement a
sustainable space infrastructure; encourage public use and encourage
private sector participation.

According to the OECD, this report is unusual in two respects: it is
written from the point of view of society and addresses governments
rather than industry; and it focuses on the demand side rather than the
supply side of space technology.

‘Most past studies of the space sector
have focused on the supply side: technological advances and the types
of new capabilities that can be developed. They assume, often
incorrectly, that development eventually follows such advances. This
publication [Space 2030: Tackling Society‘s Challenges] explores
instead how governments can get the most out of future public and
private space investment,’ states the OECD.

A number of conditions must be met if
governments are to reap the benefits of space. Primarily, barriers such
as institutional arrangements and regulations must be addressed.

The space sector usually involves three
sets of actors: space agencies, public and private operators of space
applications, and the upstream segment of the industry (spacecraft and
launcher manufacturers and providers of launching services). Countries
must clarify the role of each, and also define the relationships
between the actors, according to the OECD. Different countries may
adopt different solutions according to their priorities, and in some
cases this may distort competition at international level, the report

Moving onto the legal framework affecting space technology, the report
notes that a number of countries still do not have national space laws,
and that this represents ‘a source of uncertainty for space actors,
especially private ones’. Also, because international space law is a
public regime, it is not well suited to business transactions, and
national laws that do exist are not always business-oriented as they
were often developed with a view to security and strategic
considerations rather than business.

The regulatory framework, says the OECD,
‘should ideally provide basic rules of the game’ that ensure a stable
and predictable environment for business, stimulate innovation and
encourage entrepreneurship. ‘This is far from the case,’ states the
report, citing the International Telecommunications Union (ITU)
procedure for allocating frequencies and orbital slots, which ‘raises a
number of issues and is a source of uncertainties’, according to the
OECD. Space debris is another area that is inadequately addressed,
while several standardisation questions remain open, the report claims.

The OECD carried out a number of studies
before writing this report, and is therefore confident of the accuracy
of its warning that ‘the potential of space will not be realised unless
governments take decisive action to improve the framework conditions
that govern space activities.’

Another problem highlighted by the OECD
is the lack of public awareness about space activities. General
perceptions are distorted due to the media focus on exclusively
sensational successes and failures, states the report. As a result,
citizens have a poor understanding of the value of space-based services
for their daily lives and thus do not fully support further investment
in this technology.

Prospects for the
downstream segment of the sector – space applications – are looking far
more promising than those for the upstream sector- space asset
manufacturing and launch services, according to the OECD. The upstream
segment suffers from ‘a situation of chronic oversupply’ owing largely
to a desire of governments of space-faring nations to establish and
maintain independent access to space for strategic and national
sovereignty reasons.

While the future looks bright for certain
applications, not all should be pursued with the same intensity, the
OECD believes. The report points to information-intensive applications
such as satellite-based telecommunications, Earth observation and
navigation as having huge potential, but casts doubt on the prospects
for transport and manufacturing applications on account of the
decreasing cost of access to space.

Governments are advised to broaden their view of which policy areas are
relevant to space. Research, economic, social and environmental polices
all impact upon space activities, and decision-makers should be aware
of this, advises the report.

The report is intended by the OECD to
provide recommendations for actions in the short and medium term while
looking at space from a long-term policy point of view.

Category: Miscellaneous

Data Source Provider: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

Document Reference: Based on the OECD report ‘Space 2030: Tackling Society‘s Challenges’

Subject Index : Aerospace Technology; Social Aspects;
Environmental Protection; Economic Aspects; Innovation, Technology

RCN: 24030

(Credits OECD and CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities)