For the new director of the European Space Agency, it is urgent that the Union’s decision-makers whistle the end of the far-west which is playing out over our heads. The situation would currently only benefit SpaceX and Elon Musk.
Josef Aschbacher, newly appointed Director General of ESA (European Space Agency), urges European leaders to stop playing the game of the United States, which opens a royal road to SpaceX space projects, allowing Elon Musk to fix itself the rules. This is particularly the case with Starlink, the satellite internet network for which SpaceX plans to put tens of thousands of satellites into orbit, which could ultimately deprive European companies of opportunities, which are also developing commercial projects for space.
“In the years to come, space will become more and more limited in terms of frequencies and orbits. European governments should therefore collectively protect the interests of European companies by ensuring them equivalent opportunities ”, he told the Financial Times before specifying: “You have one person who owns half of the active satellites in the world. It is quite amazing. De facto, it is he who makes the rules. The rest of the world, including Europe, is not reacting quickly enough. ” SpaceX has already budgeted 30 billion dollars to finance the extension of its network in the years to come.
OneWeb, a European competitor supported by the British government, hopes one day to be able to offer its own satellite internet network, like Amazon and its Kuiper project or even China. For now, SpaceX has taken such a lead with Starlink (both in terms of active satellites and order book) that this leader seems unattainable.
Elon Musk’s space sovereignty
The director of ESA is not the first to worry about a conquest of space for commercial purposes and without respect for international rules, with the only agreement of national regulators such as the American Federal Communication Commission which authorizes launches Starlink’s satellite clusters without consulting other nations.
Other voices are being raised around the world to put an end to this new far-west, 2000 Starlink satellites having already been launched. So many satellites that disrupt space observation – even though SpaceX has taken measures to limit the damage – and pose the threat of collisions with other space objects, which could generate even more debris in space. Founder of Norss (Northern Space and Security Ltd), Briton Ralph Dinsley is worried: “At the rate SpaceX is going, Musk is building real sovereignty in space for himself.”