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Space 2030

Tackling Society's Challenges

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This book explores the contribution space systems might make in dealing with looming societal challenges related to threats to the physical environment and the management of natural resources, growing mobility and its consequences, increasing security concerns, and the shift to the information society. It discusses the challenges for developing space applications. It assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the institutional, legal and regulatory frameworks that currently govern space activities in the OECD area and beyond. Finally, it formulates an overall policy framework that OECD governments might use in drafting policies designed to ensure that the potential that space has to offer is actually realised.

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Supply Conditions: Strengths and Weaknesses of Space

While space holds a great deal of promise for society at large, it is far from clear whether this potential will actually be realised, given the state of the space sector and the major technological and economic challenges space actors will have to overcome in coming decades. Today the space sector offers a mixed picture. The industry’s upstream segment (manufacturers of launchers and spacecrafts) still has not recovered from the downturn of the early 2000s. The downstream segment is in a stronger position, although some markets have not developed as expected (e.g. Earth observation) while others are only emerging (e.g. navigation). The sector’s future is thus far from certain. Although space has a number of inherent strengths, it also faces important technological hurdles, notably regarding access to space. This is reflected in high costs and long lead times for the development of new systems. Space solutions also have to contend with strong competition from terrestrial technologies in some applications (e.g. broadband, navigation, Earth observation), while the dual civil/military nature of space technology is a mixed blessing. Whether these challenges can be overcome will very much depend on whether the framework conditions (i.e. institutional arrangements as well as laws and regulations) that govern space activities provide a policy environment that is sufficiently supportive for the development of space applications that effectively meet users’ needs in a predictable and sustainable manner.

English French

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