Every other spring, including this spring, I say to myself, “Wouldn’t it be cool to go to the Paris Air Show?” Then I realize that I have no time and no budget for such a trip (and the current lousy dollar-euro exchange rate doesn’t help matters.) So I’ll have to be content staying on this side of the Atlantic again this summer, and instead offer a quick update on European space policy.
Earlier this week the European Commission announced that it had completed the “first elements” of an overall European Space Policy. The policy’s two flagships with be the Galileo satellite navigation system and Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES). The policy also features continued development of advanced satellite communications technologies, and calls on ESA to continue space technology development and scientific exploration. The policy expects that Europe will “maintain and develop” cooperation with the US but also “build up its space partnership” with Russia. Along those lines, the British newspaper The Observer reported Sunday that ESA may cooperate with Russia on the development of Kliper, a proposed successor to the Soyuz spacecraft, potentially giving Europe independent manned access to space. The policy is scheduled to be completed by November and, as one might imagine, its programs will “be subject to normal budgetary and programmatic approval procedures.”
However, one of those cornerstones of the European space policy may be in danger. On Sunday the French will go to the polls in a referendum on the EU constitution; polls suggest that voters will reject the constitution. Such a vote could disrupt a number of European initiatives, including Galileo, Space News reported this week (subscription required). The no vote would not kill the project, according to the report, because it is not tied to the constitution, but the effect of a French rejection of the constitution could at least cause some temporary disruption.