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Signs of increased privatization of the space sector and cooperation with industry

This is according to a special panel on the interrelationship between government space policy and the industry that took place yesterday as part of the International Astronautics Conference in Prague

The passenger cabin, the space plane of the company EDAS - ASTRIUM which is under development
The passenger cabin, the space plane of the company EDAS - ASTRIUM which is under development

A special meeting was held on September 28 as part of the International Astronautical Conference taking place this week in Prague. The meeting included senior officials from the space industry and representatives of space agencies, to discuss the issues of mutual relations between government space policy and the industries related to space. Among the participants in the discussion: the head of the European Space Agency Jean-Jacques Durdin, chairman and CEO of Ariane Space, operator of Ariane launchers Jean-Yves Le Gall, Professor Martin Sweeting, founder and CEO of SSTL from the UK, CEO Space Systems Division at the Japanese Mitsubishi Corporation, Soichiro Asada, Chairman of EADS Astrium Corporation François Oak, Chairman of Thales Alanya-Space, Luigi Pasquali, and other senior officials.

The purpose of the high-level meeting was to examine the various ways in which decisions by policy makers at government levels affect the space field in their countries and in the international arena, on the various space industries in the world. The direct impact of policy on the industry is in the prioritization of national and international space missions. Another impact is related to government procurement processes - both of finished space systems and of components; A third major influence is related to government encouragement for the space industries to enter into business activity in areas where the government market is not the only one. At least in the case of the USA, NASA represents the three levels of the government's influence on the space industries (especially in light of the COTS initiative in which NASA supports the companies SpaceX and Orbital Express, for the development of satellite launchers and supply spacecraft for the International Space Station).

In the USA, under the instructions of the Obama administration, there have been sweeping changes in the national space policy (The US National Space Policy document can be read on the White House website), some following the report of the Committee to Examine the US Manned Space Program (the Augustine Committee). In the field of procurement, the American space agency operates more and more according to models accepted in the business world, such as contractual engagement at fixed prices for the supply of components, systems and launch services, in support of the International Space Station program. In the field of government investments in commercial space initiatives, NASA operates in a manner similar to the activity of investors in the capital market, including the inspection and supervision processes of the companies, in addition to the supervision of the technical level and the research, development and production processes.

Space agencies in the world are also in the process of change, some of them as a direct response to the change in US space policy. In Japan, a new space law was recently enacted, placing the consolidation of space industries and changing their priorities in the center of attention. In Europe, in addition to the European Space Agency, the European Union works to formulate space goals, as well as the activity of a large number of national space agencies, and transnational space projects such as the "Galileo" satellite navigation system.

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