The question of how to explore the wonders of our Solar System and best benefit from its vast resources is one of the great challenges of our times.
"Space is a global common, it belongs to all humankind. Space research creates jobs, it creates technologies, and entire industries that otherwise wouldn't exist. So we must keep our space accessible to all, clean and secure." These are the words of HRVP Federica Mogherini, as she addressed the participants at the 2nd International Space Exploration Forum (ISEF2) in Tokyo this weekend. The very idea of an International Space Exploration Forum came from the European Space Agency, the European Commission and EU Member States in 2011.
This year under the patronage of Japan’s Minister for Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT), high-level governmental representatives will examine how space exploration can expand the horizons of humanity. They will also investigate how best to build an appropriate institutional framework for science cooperation, as well as tackling the role of commercial space ventures.
The recently announced plans to return to the Moon coupled with the preparations for human exploration of Mars confirm that space industry is evolving quickly. Many international players are coming to the table, raising collective ambitions and expectations in this so called 'New Space' era.
Being one of the major space powers, Europe is greatly involved in the International Space Station (ISS) project and many other space missions on Mars and across the Solar System. We, the European Union, are more and more engaged on space issues. We have developed two of the world's most advanced satellite systems – Galileo and Copernicus. The recent discovery of seven Earth-like planets, with large quantities of water on them, was also funded by the European Union. Space exploration is a driver of common ambitions and has a positive influence on youth. Thanks to EU engagement, many young people can dream of space and its limitless possibilities.