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European space leaders discuss

on 16 May 2022

Between 16 and 19 May 2022 the Romanian Space Agency (ROSA) is organising the event ”Space and Security for Eastern Europe. Romania — 10 years in the European Space Agency (ESA)”.

Planned in the context of recent regional events, but also as a natural consequence of Romania’s involvement in space security throughout the years, the event aims to discuss the strategic national and European plans regarding space capabilities and critical infrastructures and their essential contribution to smooth day to day operations, climate change management, as well as the security of citizens and the strengthening of planetary defense. The event also marks going beyond the milestone of 10 years since Romania joined the European Space Agency.

Over 350 representatives from the space sector, from Romania and abroad, have registered at the conference (16-17 May), while at the exhibition (16-19 May) the most important actors in space research, academia and industry from Romania are presenting their latest results.

Dr. Phys. Marius-Ioan Piso, President of the Romanian Space Agency (ROSA) explained the reasoning for this conference in Bucharest, Romania, starting with the common history of countries in this area of Europe and the changes they have been going through in the last decades. “Space applications are needed for the security provision on the Eastern border of the EU and for Black Sea and Danube. Romania is the only ESA Member State which is riparian to the Black Sea,” declared Mr. Piso. Finally, Mr. Piso reviewed the series of actions and events in the Space and Security area that ROSA has coordinated and which have led up to this event.

Romania, as a Member State of the European Union (EU) and of the European Space Agency (ESA), is participating in their programmes and applications, but at the same time is developing its own space programme according to the national strategy and in concordance and complementarity with other international programs.

“I believe that every country including Romania should invest resources into developing our own capacities, our own programme, complementary to our efforts at the European and global levels, together with our strategic partners. But there is one more thing that we need to do — developing our relationships in the region, (...) with countries in Eastern Europe with whom we are closely aligned and with whom we currently face common threats and dangers and we have definitely common interests,” declared the Minister for Research, Innovation and Digitalisation, Sebastian-Ioan Burduja.

“I know that we have a lot of work to do together and one of my key assignments is to make sure that Romania is properly handling its responsibilities as a Member of the European Space Agency. (...) You have my full commitment. (...) Together with the Minister of Finance I am confident we can find a solution within the timeline agreed, in October. If we are to make space indeed a critical area for this country (...), we have the tradition, we have the bright people and now I believe we also have the commitment to make things happen,” declared the Minister for Research, Innovation and Digitalisation, Sebastian-Ioan Burduja.

Through the efforts of ROSA, Romania obtained world leadership positions in global organisations, such as the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and the International Academy of Astronautics. Romania concluded agreements of cooperation with the major space faring countries in the world — for example the Artemis Accords regarding the Moon to Mars programme and the SSA data sharing agreement concluded by ROSA with the US Space Command. 

Security is a major aspect of all space developments. Starting with applications in disaster management and space imagery intelligence, ROSA has developed capabilities and expertise in all major space security areas.

Since 2005 ROSA has been coordinating the national civilian security research sector. Since 2011 Romania recognised Space as a sector for critical infrastructures. The first NATO Space Science and Technology expert conference was organised in 2006, in Bucharest.  Secure satellite telecommunications and space quantum key distribution are new areas where Romanian contributions are welcome. Precise Positioning-Navigation-Timing applications support wide area security for civilian and defense sectors. Application for transportation, banking and secure telemedicine are in the operational phase.

An important national asset is the development of the Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST) network of optical and radar sensors which became a component of the European Union SST Consortium of currently seven Member States.

Finally, the current Romanian space strategy is 3S, which Dr. Phys. Marius-Ioan Piso, President of the Romanian Space Agency (ROSA) introduced at the event. The strategy 3S includes Science and Technology, Services and Security.

The new EU Space Programme demonstrates an important contribution to the security of EU citizens and beyond, in particular in the current geopolitical context. The Chair of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) and Membre of the European Parliament, Mr. Cristian-Silviu Bușoi talked about the need for a new EU Space Strategy for Security and Defence, for building a common

understanding of space-related risks and threats, and developing appropriate responses and capabilities to react better and faster to crises.

Besides the security coming from space, there is a need for security in space and a need for ramping the Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST) sub-component into the Space Traffic Management programme. At the same time, in EU-NATO relations, Mr. Bușoi underlined the need to protect space infrastructures against cyber-attacks, physical threats, debris or other interference.

We need to make “space the cornerstone of European autonomy, non-dependence, resilience and security. With space we can and we will strengthen the EU industrial base and implement EU’s political priorities, the Green Deal, the Digital era, the Recovery and Resilience of the EU,” declared Member of the European Parliament, Cristian-Silviu Bușoi.

On the first conference day, during the session "European Space Programmes", Dr. Phys. Marius-Ioan Piso, President of the Romanian Space Agency (ROSA) will present the strategic directions in the field of Space and Security in Romania and in the region.

Mr. Pascal Legai, Security Adviser to the Director General of ESA, will present the ESA Agenda 2025, which includes three “accelerators” to bring Europe’s space ambitions to the next level: the “Space for a Green Future” accelerator, the “Rapid and Resilient Crisis Response” accelerator, and the “Protection of Space Assets” accelerator, as well as two “inspirators”: an icy moon sample return mission, and human space exploration.

Ms. Isabella Poldrugo, Deputy Director for Space, Directorate-General for the Defense and Space Industry, will present the Space Programme of the European Union.

After the first session, the official opening of the exhibition ”Space and Security for Eastern Europe. Romania — 10 years in the European Space Agency (ESA)” will take place, where exhibitors from research, academia and the space industry are participating. The exhibition will end on 19 May.

The second session of the conference will focus on "Regional Developments" with presentations on the European Union Satellite Center (SatCen), the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) and UN-OOSA.

Mr. Sorin Ducaru, Director of the European Union Satellite Centre (SatCen) will present the centre. SatCe is an intergovernmental agency of the EU that supports the decision making and actions of the European Union in the field of Common Foreign and Security Policy, including civil and military missions and operations, by analysing geo-spatial information, correlated with other relevant data sources. In 2019, Romania joined the Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST) consortium, a programme that supplies space information in support of SATCEN services.

Mr. Rodrigo da Costa, Executive Director at the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) presented the strategic directions of EUSPA and highlighted Romania’s contributions to space policy at the level of the EU and its involvement in the EU space programmes. The European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA) has the mission to implement the EU Space Programme and to offer space services that are trusted, safe and secure, maximising their socio-economic benefits for European citizens and the industry.

Mr. Niklas Hedman, Acting Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) will present the organisation. UNOOSA works to promote international cooperation in the peaceful use and exploration of space, and in the utilisation of space science and technology for sustainable economic and social development.

The first day will end with a panel discussion on “Capacity building: Regional vs Global”.

The conference continues the next day with two more sessions, the first on "National Projects" with presentations from space industry, research institutes, academia and ROSA, and the second session on "New Programmes" from industry.

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Images credit: ROSA