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CORDIS - Résultats de la recherche de l’UE

European Ways Forward for Space Traffic Management

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SPACEWAYS (European Ways Forward for Space Traffic Management)

Période du rapport: 2021-01-01 au 2022-06-30

The Horizon 2020 SPACEWAYS project aimed at understanding the challenging context of Space Traffic Management, with a particular attention to its international and domestic components. The main goal of this 18 month-long project, started in January 2021, was to provide the European Commission with recommendations and guidelines in the STM field. This involved the pursuit of a two-fold research strategy, including a policy, legal and economic analysis of the STM domain and a complete assessment of the European STM technical capabilities. To this end, SPACEWAYS elaborated a shared European vision of STM.

This is the first time that a common perspective on Space Traffic Management regroups all major actors of the space ecosystem in Europe. Given the reliance of society on space assets for important aspects of daily life, such as meteorology, navigation and positioning, communications, this appears as a major development to ensure the sustainable use of space in the future for the benefit of society as a whole.

Through public dissemination actions, the project also raised awareness on the necessity to safeguard the space environment and guarantee the freedom of its use. As environmental awareness becomes a topic of growing importance, the precariousness of the space environment, and the importance of the services it provides to the society should be understood by the general public. In this respect, the perspective of SSA data sharing through improved collection and dissemination systems and architectures appears as particularly in line with such collective endeavours. SPACEWAYS provided the public with a responsible image of space activities that may help secure a greater support for future developments in space.
SPACEWAYS was structured around seven work packages with a total duration of 18 months.

SPACEWAYS produced 9 recommendations as part of its work. They are summarized below:

Recommendation 1: The European Commission should promote the creation of a European policy framework supported at least by EU Member States and other EU institutions, to ensure that EU and Member States actions on STM are coordinated.
Recommendation 2: The EU should reinforce and/or create adequate cooperation mechanisms within its defined competences (following the TFEU and EU Space Regulation), especially through the preparation and signature of appropriate agreements dedicated to STM with ESA and the EU SST. It should also clarify the role of EUSPA.
Recommendation 3: The EU should take the role of a coordinator to promote and improve regulatory convergence among Member States, within the remit of its competences.
Recommendation 4: EU-based operators shall comply with a limited set of common space traffic rules, especially on collision avoidance manoeuvres strategy and priority rules based on the satellites’ constraints and capacities. Such rules should not be unfair to EU-based operators.
Recommendation 5: European SSA/SST stakeholders (in particular the EU and EU SST) should support the enhancement of European SST sensors’ capacity, especially regarding size coverage and timeliness.
Recommendation 6: The EU and EU SST should diversify their sources of SSA/SST data, encourage the development of new sensors, and facilitate access to SSA/SST data and products through a variety of means (e.g. funding through research programmes).
Recommendation 7: The EU and EU SST should contribute to the development of new services for “traditional” activities (e.g. launch and re-entry operations) as well as for “emerging” activities (e.g. IOS and ADR).
Recommendation 8: The EU should show its acceptance of international space law, so to strengthen its position as a responsible actor in outer space and, therefore, reinforce its image as a credible partner for negotiating future agreements on space safety and sustainability at the international stage.
Recommendation 9: European stakeholders should organise themselves to promote their positions on the international stage, in particular those related to the establishment of rules-of-the-road. European stakeholders should bolster agreement within UN COPUOS, despite its limitations, while in parallel engaging with like-minded partners to build convergence on these rules.
The technical challenges leading to possible STM regulations are varied, spanning from industrial issues such as SST capabilities and satellite building techniques to downstream, more user-oriented challenges such as data-sharing agreements and best practices.
A description of the possible roles of current European institutional and industrial actors involved in space activities:
The stakeholder dialogue mechanism put into place during the course of the project (WP2) allowed for a better understanding of the mutual perceptions, roles and capabilities of various European actors operating in the space domain. WP3, dedicated to the legal, policy and economic aspects of STM, has benefited from the meaningful exchange of information resulting from the workshops planned over the duration of the project. WP3 paved the way for legal and policy guidelines and best practices as a conclusive part of the project. The exchanges during the stakeholder engagement workshops, as well as the legal, policy, economic and technical assessment conducted during most of the project duration have entailed proposing future roles for institutional and industrial actors to enable efficient STM practices.
An assessment of the paths for the SSA evolution to support safe and sustainable space operations:

The most important impact of this project is the assessment of paths to establish efficient and global SSA/SST, allowing for safe operations of all intended space projects, even those involving the simultaneous operation of tens of thousands of satellites. From a technical standpoint, emerging services associated with the use of a large number of satellites is conditioned by improved SSA capabilities. In other words, the expected evolutions in spacecraft operations will depend directly on the ability of space operator specialists to benefit from improved SSA data and information. This will impact positively employment and the rise of data-intensive services. Therefore, a specific WP was devoted to SSA/SST technological analysis for STM monitoring, taking into account the fact that an efficient STM should indeed allow for the viable operation of many satellites, for the development of new types of space operations, for encouraging activities in space and potentially paving the way for a future industrialisation of space.

By providing Europe with initial elements regarding the setting of STM norms, a preliminary European analysis of these issues should ensure a good position in international negotiations and cooperation. It must also be reminded that this norm-setting capacity will have to be supported by independent sources of information, emphasizing the need for a robust European space surveillance capability. This capability may provide opportunities for new data-sharing agreements between European and international actors.

The conditions created by SPACEWAYS should in turn allow civilian and military authorities to establish an efficient dialogue, ensuring both the safety of military space operations and the security and sustainability of the space environment itself.
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