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European Union Agency for the Space Programme

European Union Agency
for the Space Programme
Agency overview
AbbreviationEUSPA
Formed12 May 2021 (2021-05-12)
Preceding agencies
  • European GNSS Supervisory Authority
  • European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency
TypeSpace agency
EU agency
JurisdictionEuropean Commission
HeadquartersPrague, Czech Republic
Executive Director
Rodrigo da Costa
Primary spaceportsGuiana Space Centre United States
OwnerEuropean Union
Annual budgetEU Space Programme
€1.997–2.221bn[1]
Websiteeuspa.europa.eu

The European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) is a space agency, managing the European Union Space Programme as one of the agencies of the European Union (EU). It was initially created as the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Supervisory Authority (GSA) in 2004, reorganised into the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (also GSA) in 2010, and established in its current form on May 12, 2021. EUSPA is a separate entity from the European Space Agency (ESA), although the two entities work together closely.

Overview

EUSPA operates the Galileo and European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) services with the aim to provide a European alternative to the already established and advanced American, Russian and Chinese systems e.g. GPS, Glonass and BeiDou.

Although providing increased position and timing precision, Galileo and EGNOS have recently faced disruption in the continuity of service due to major delays in the launch of the remainder of the Galileo first-generation satellites.[2] SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launched the European Commission’s Galileo L12 mission to medium Earth orbit from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday, April 27 at 8:34 p.m. ET. [3]

EUSPA provides safe and secure European satellite navigation services, advances the commercialization of Galileo, EGNOS, and Copernicus data and services, engages in secure satellite communications (GOVSATCOM[4] and IRIS2[5]), and operates the EU SST[6] Front Desk. EUSPA is responsible for the security accreditation of all the EU Space Programme components. By fostering innovation in the space sector and above and collaborating with the EU Space community, EUSPA contributes to the European Green Deal and digital transition, enhances Union safety and security, and strengthens autonomy and resilience.[7]

History and funding

EUSPA headquarters in Prague

Established in 2004 as the European GNSS Supervisory Authority (GSA), reorganised in 2010 into the European GNSS Agency (also GSA), and based in Prague, Czech Republic, since 1 September 2012, the agency was initially responsible for managing and monitoring the use of the Galileo programme funds and dealing with any matters relating to satellite radio-navigation.

In June 2018, the European Commission proposed to transform the European GNSS Agency into the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA), aggregating and consolidating the agency's role for Galileo, EGNOS, the Earth Observation constellation of Copernicus and a new Governmental Satellite Communication (GOVSATCOM) initiative.[8][9] In December 2020, the European Commission welcomed the political agreement between the European Parliament and the Council on the EU Space Programme.[10] On 28 April 2021, the European Parliament approved the update of the EU Space Programme regulation paving the way to the creation of the European Union Agency for the Space Programme.[11] The regulation creates the European Union Space Agency for Space Programme, defines its competences and functioning, as well as a budget of 14 872 million euros within the multiannual financial framework 2021–2027, the highest amount ever committed by Brussels for space programmes.[12] It entered force on 12 May 2021.[13]

EU's relationship with ESA

The initial aim of the European Union (EU) was to integrate the European Space Agency (ESA) as agency of the EU by 2014.[14] While the EU and its member states fund together 86% of the budget of ESA, it is not an EU agency. ESA is partnered with the EU on its two current flagship space programs, the Copernicus series of Earth observation satellites and the Galileo satellite navigation system, with ESA providing technical oversight and, in the case of Copernicus, some of the funding.[15] The EU, though, has shown an interest in expanding into new areas, hence the proposal to rename and expand its satellite navigation agency (the European GNSS Agency) into the EU Agency for the Space Programme. The proposal drew strong criticism from ESA and many ESA and EU member states, as it was perceived as encroaching on ESA's turf.[15]

In January 2021, after years of acrimonious relations, EU and ESA officials mended their relationship, with the EU Internal Market commissioner Thierry Breton saying "The European space policy will continue to rely on ESA and its unique technical, engineering and science expertise,” and that “ESA will continue to be the European agency for space matters.[15] If we are to be successful in our European strategy for space, and we will be, I will need ESA by my side." ESA director Josef Aschbacher reciprocated, saying "I would really like to make ESA the main agency, the go-to agency of the European Commission for all its flagship programs." ESA and EUSPA are now seen to have distinct roles and competencies, which is officialized in the Financial Framework Partnership Agreement (FFPA).[15] Whereas ESA's focus will be on the design and development of technical elements of the EU space programs, EUSPA will handle the operational elements of those programs.[15]

The European GNSS Service Centre (GSC), Madrid

The European GNSS Service Centre (GSC) is an integral part of the European GNSS infrastructure, which represents the interface between the Galileo system and the users of the Galileo Open Service (OS) and the Galileo Commercial Service (CS). The GNSS Service Center is located in Madrid, in the facilities of the Spanish National Aerospace Institute (INTA),[16] in Torrejón de Ardoz.[16]

The GSC acts as an interface between the Galileo system and the open service users as well as between the commercial service providers and / or users. It also provides users with CS service performance assessment and notifications. The GSC sets up a competence center for OS and CS service aspects, which are accessible to users via the user help desk and the web portal. The information is provided by a communication platform, an electronic library with Galileo and GNSS reference documentation as well as by the ad hoc provision of specific Galileo information. The GSC supports the Open Service and Commercial Service and their applications.

GSC facilities in Madrid

History

The European GNSS Service Center was inaugurated in May 2013 by vice-president of the European Commission Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship and the Spanish Minister of Development Ana Pastor. The center itself was named as a tribute to the former Vice President of the EC "Loyola de Palacio", the then Commissioner for Transport.[17]

On 17 March 2011, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by the Vice President of the EC Antonio Tajani and the Spanish Minister of Transport José Blanco López. This letter of intent outlined the conditions and requirements for hosting the GNSS Service Center (GSC) in Spain and for conducting a Spanish study to prepare the center. The GSC deployment agreement was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 23 February 2012, which stated that the global network of ground stations as part of the Galileo program included six centers and one station. The GSC is one of these six ground stations (MCC, GSMC, GSC, GRC).[18]

Area of responsibility

GSC concept

The centre provides the following services:

  1. The GSC offers basic services for the user community via a web portal and a user help desk.[19] A special website www.gsc-europa.eu is made available to Galileo users to answer questions.
  2. Distribution of timely service information: information about the system, system status and other messages for users.
  3. Support for service provision: exchange of R&D and industry knowledge of individual market segments.
  4. Provision of current information and performance reports regarding the program status
  5. Application and product developers with access to market experts in key segments.
  6. Provision of basic services for the user community via a web portal and a user help desk.
  7. Exchange of R&D and industry knowledge per market segment.
  8. Information about the program status and ICD documents (Interface Control Document).
  9. Access to market experts in key segments.

GNSS Service Center (OS and CS) at FOC

The GSC acts as an interface between the Galileo system and the open service users as well as between the commercial service providers and / or users. It also provides users with CS service performance assessment and notifications. The GSC sets up a competence center for OS and CS service aspects, which are accessible to users via the user help desk and the web portal. The information is provided by a communication platform, an electronic library with Galileo and GNSS reference documentation as well as by the ad hoc provision of specific Galileo information. The GSC supports the Open Service and Commercial Service and their applications.

Controversies

In late 2023, the EUSPA Executive Director terminated a major contract agency agreement, resulting in the layoff of approximately 100 RHEA employees.

The lack of transparency of this decision and the chaotic circumstances of the execution are under investigation by OLAF EUSPA 2022 List of Contractors.

See also

References

  1. ^ "EU Space Programme – Performance | European Commission".
  2. ^ Posaner 1 Cerulus 2 (17 April 2023). "EU turns to Elon Musk to replace stalled French rocket". POLITICO.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Posaner 1 Cerulus 2 (17 April 2023). "EU turns to Elon Musk to replace stalled French rocket". SATNEWS.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ "GOVSATCOM". www.euspa.europa.eu. 7 October 2020. Retrieved 14 December 2023.
  5. ^ "IRIS² - European Commission". defence-industry-space.ec.europa.eu. Retrieved 14 December 2023.
  6. ^ "EU SST – EU Space Surveillance and Tracking". Retrieved 14 December 2023.
  7. ^ "About EUSPA". www.euspa.europa.eu. 20 August 2011. Retrieved 14 December 2023.
  8. ^ "Advocate General: EU Court has no say on Croatia-Slovenia border row". 12 December 2019.
  9. ^ Questions and Answers on the new EU Space Programme, European Commission Press Release Database.
  10. ^ "Commission welcomes the political agreement on the European Space Programme". ec.europa.eu. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  11. ^ "MEPs approve update of the EU's space programme | News | European Parliament". www.europarl.europa.eu. 28 April 2021. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  12. ^ Pons, Juan (4 May 2021). "Ursula von der Leyen gets the EU Space Agency off the ground with 14.8 billion euros".
  13. ^ "From GSA to EUSPA: Space transforming business and the economy". 27 November 2019.
  14. ^ "Agenda : A Document by the ESA Director General and the ESA Directors – October 2006" (PDF). Esa.int. Archived (PDF) from the original on 7 March 2010. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  15. ^ a b c d e "ESA and EU mend relations". Space News. 22 January 2021. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  16. ^ a b "Informationen zum European GNSS Service Centre". Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  17. ^ "New Global Navigation Satellite System service centre in Spain to help European businesses access data". Archived from the original on 6 July 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2021.
  18. ^ "Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2016/413 of 18 March 2016 determining the location of the ground-based infrastructure..." (PDF). European Union. 19 March 2016. Retrieved 22 January 2023.
  19. ^ "The European GNSS Service Centre is open to help users". www.euspa.europa.eu. 17 May 2013.
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European Union Agency for the Space Programme
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