Space Café: Defence implements developments for space domain
"Without space, our armed forces are blind and deaf." So said Minister Kajsa Ollongren on 4 April during the kick-off of the Defence Space Agenda (DRA). The morning session about EDF was hosted by SpaceNed. Both events took place at ESA European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) at the fourth and final edition of Space Café in Noordwijk. The agenda was already presented last year, but from Space Café on it will be formally implemented.
During the fourth edition of Space Café, Minister Ollongren described space as the fifth military domain, alongside land, sea, air and cyber. "With the new Defence Space Agenda, we want to build up Dutch space capabilities over the next 15 years and become a credible international partner."
Defence focuses on three aspects. "We choose what we are good at, niches with which we can put ourselves in the spotlight internationally," Ollongren said. Firstly, this involves setting up constellations of small satellites with several missions. But also the further development of Thales' Smart-L Multi-Mission radar is one of these niches. This can provide better space awareness by looking not only to the side but also upwards. As a third aspect, the minister cited further development of laser satellite communications.
But the Netherlands cannot do it alone, Ollongren said. "In the coming years, we will strengthen ties within the EU and existing NATO and bilateral cooperation with strategic partners. Think of countries like Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg, the UK and the US. We can also join forces through the European Defence Fund and the Research & Development activities of the European Defence Agency. As far as I am concerned, there are huge opportunities for the industry."
Investment in personnel
Among other things, Defence is investing extra in personnel for the Defence Space Security Centre. There is also a budget for satellite development and for sub-areas within the space domain. Examples include navigation, but also space weather (magnetic fields and other effects in space) and the aforementioned laser satellite communication. Money is also invested in research and technology development in this area.
Cooperation with civilian partners
Critical in the implementation of the Defence Space Agenda is building an ecosystem. This is designed to share knowledge and promote cooperation with civilian partners in the space field. The afternoon specifically targeted the nearly 200 attendees from government, industry, educational institutions and knowledge institutes of this fourth 'Space Café'. Together, they must make this implementation possible. In this way, Defence will keep high-quality knowledge and skills in the long term as well. An additional advantage is that Dutch industry can develop along with and benefit from these developments, as recently indicated in the Defence Industry Strategy.
Collaborating on a European Level
Also collaborating on a European level is becoming increasingly important. The week before the launch of the DRA, the European Commission adopted the third annual work programme under the European Defence Fund (EDF). The EDF is a European research and innovation program for international defence research and capability development.
The morning before Space Café and the presentation of the DRA, SpaceNed and the NIDV, Netherlands Industry for Defence and Safety, took the initiative with the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate to organise a session to be informed and prepared to participate in upcoming EDF tenders regarding Space interests. Discussed how can you participate and what are the priorities and opportunities. There are multiple calls for proposals to join tenders and opportunities for collaborations and projects from the EDF. You can visit the website here.
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