European Multinational Efforts
Europe launched the first test satellite in the Galileo system in December 2005.
Personal navigation systems are a quickly growing application of GPS for the consumer market. In-vehicle navigation systems can be purchased as an integral component of the car’s systems or an autonomous dashboard navigation unit.
Civil space programs have major science directorates that guide programmatic decisions. Divisions for Solar System Exploration, Structure & Evolution of the Universe, and Astronomical Search for Origins are all found in NASA’s $## billion 2005 space science budget.
More than ## missions carrying scientific instruments, in the form of probes and rovers, have been launched into the solar system to study planets, comets, asteroids, and other phenomena. These instruments return valuable scientific data on the history and nature of the solar system. Recently, NASA launched the New Horizons probe in January 2006 to study Pluto.
World-class education services to rural and remote locations will continue to proliferate and stimulate economic development in those locations. The OECD’s Space 2030 recommends governments use satellites to provide services such as distance learning to rural and remote areas. India’s EDUSAT satellite, launched in 2005 with the goal of developing rural states like West Bengal by 2020, is a prime example of governments using distance learning in remote and undeveloped areas.
Greater biotechnology research and manufacturing is among the far-term prospects (20-30 years) for space enterprise, given more affordable access and orbital platforms. However, there are several current applications of biotechnology to space science and exploration, including research efforts in food production, microbial ecology in closed space habitats, and sensors for monitoring astronauts’ health.
Europe is considering satellite navigation to enable an elimination of toll booths and increase road safety. The EU Commission envisions a toll system based on satellite navigation and mobile telecommunications systems. Galileo is intended to be the backbone of this “pay-as-you- drive” system.
As the space infrastructure continues to grow, it is possible to expand the sphere of economically useful resources into space and neighboring planetary bodies. NASA, ESA, and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) are among the space agencies that have conducted studies or workshops to address the feasibility of using extra-terrestrial resources, or In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU).
Of growing concern to the international community is orbital debris— ranging from paint flecks to entire upper stages— resulting from half a century of space access. It is estimated that 100,000 to 150,000 objects larger than one centimeter remain in orbit.
65 countries, the European Commission (EC) and more than 40 international organizations are supporting the development of a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) during the next decade. GEOSS is proposed as an overarching system of existing and future earth observations systems.