The Space Downstream Sector: Challenges for the Emergence of a European Space Economy Etudes de l'Ifri, March 2022
As the commercial anchor of the space sector, the downstream sector plays an essential role in Europe where industry focuses mainly on application markets and where socio-economic considerations have become the main driver of space policy.
The European approach to space has been shaped by the success of public strategies and private businesses on these commercial markets, from satellite manufacturing and launch services to the provision of space-based services. Yet, forces at play in the space sector are changing, challenging Europe to adapt its approach to new commercial realities in competition, innovation, and market fronts. In this new ecosystem, the space infrastructure is increasingly steered toward its function of enabler of commercial applications and public services. The emergence of integrated business models such as SpaceX/Starlink is not only reshuffling the competition landscape but also changing the way space capabilities are being developed, exploited, and marketed, as part of a unified chain of activities optimized to deliver a service...
A change of mindset is necessary to ensure that development of the space sector answers not only to a logic of return on investment but fits with broader strategic and political concerns, from strategic autonomy to sustainable development.
Sebastien Moranta is Research Manager of the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI) in Vienna, an independent and public think tank providing decision-makers with an informed view on short to long-term issues relevant to European space policy.