ESPI Wows Washington

ESPI Wows Washington

Over three consecutive days this week, European Space Policy Institute (ESPI) Director Kai-Uwe Schrogl introduced his Institute to the Washington space policy community, capping his appearances with testimony to the House Science and Technology committee on Thursday.

ESPI was created five years ago by the Member States of the European Space Agency (ESA) to provide independent analysis for policymakers about a broad range of space policy issues. Located in Vienna, Austria, the Institute receives direct funding from the host government and ESA for operations and the conduct of studies. European space agencies detail staff to the Institute.

At a meeting co-sponsored by George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute (SPI) on Tuesday, Dr. Schrogl and colleagues Wolfgang Rathgeber and Nina-Louisa Remu briefed four ESPI publications, and on Wednesday, Dr. Schrogl briefed a fifth to a seminar hosted by the Space Foundation on Space Applications for International Development. Four of the five studies are available on ESPI’s website; the fifth (Responsive Space in Europe) will be published in January.

The Space Situational Awareness (SSA) briefing on Tuesday at the ESPI/SPI event sparked the most discussion. Richard DalBello, Vice President and General Counsel of Intelsat General, argued that ESPI’s focus on governmental approaches to SSA was “insensitive” to what is being done already by commercial satellite operators like Intelsat, which operates a fleet of 50 satellites. DalBello said that the commercial sector could not wait for “glacial” governmental discussions and negotiations and that putting governments in the role of regulator on SSA is “wrong.” The commercial sector is stepping up to this issue, he said, and can help lead the way.

The ESPI/SPI event was kicked off by a stimulating talk by Richard Buenneke, Deputy Director of the State Department’s Office of Missile and Space Policy. Noting that this year not only marks the 40thanniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, but also of Sesame Street, Mr. Buenneke joked that his talk was sponsored by the letter “C.” For space policy, he said C stands for the adjectives “congested,” “complex,” and “contested” and the nouns “concept” and “capabilities.” Citing a recent statement by the United States to the United Nations General Assembly reaffirming U.S. support “for a number of long-standing principles, including those in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty,” Mr. Buenneke provided a summary of the key features of U.S. space policy and how the five C’s factor into them.

On Wednesday, Dr. Schrogl discussed ESPI’s book on sustainability as part of a panel on capacity building. He was joined on the panel at the Space Foundation event by Ken Hodgkins, Director of Space and Advanced Technology at the U.S. State Department, and Dr. Carlos Ganem, President of the Brazilian Space Agency. Dr. Ganem’s remarks focused on Brazil’s interest in launching a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) remote sensing satellite to improve studies of the Amazon rain forest. Noting that Brazil’s existing CBERS remote sensing satellites, built and launched in cooperation with China, cannot see through clouds or heavy tree canopies, he appealed for relief from the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) that apparently are a barrier to Brazil acquiring the necessary technology.

On Capitol Hill on Thursday, Dr. Schrogl was part of a five-person panel testifying before the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee of the House Science and Technology Committee on global space capabilities. The panelists discussed the advantages of international cooperation in space and challenges of international competition. He identified three fields of transatlantic space cooperation: “promising” — space for security, especially SSA and Europe’s draft code of conduct for outer space activities; “necessary” — space as a strategic economic issue area and tool to deal with climate change; and “potential” — space exploration. Regarding the latter, he emphasized that “full and successful use” of the International Space Station must be the priority in establishing a basis for future human space flight cooperation. A webcast of the hearing is posted here.

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