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The Growing Role of Space in Earth Observation and Navigatio

The European space industry has a highly successful track record of building and operating satellites, spanning nearly 40 years. In recent years, the strategy has evolved to create larger programmes with greater ambitions than was possible before. This trend has suffered some difficulties, so why are collaborations like Galileo and GMES proving difficult?Looking under the covers of both programmes reveals that similar challenges have arisen mainly from complexity, demand for products and funding of the development programme, and for the first time, both ESA and the EC have set up satellite programmes designed to compete on the commercial market and have been looking to the private sector to co-fund them.GMES and Galileo are the first two European space programmes where commercial considerations have been taken into account from the outset. Both can be viewed as systems of systems that require the development of a business case, a feasible implementation plan based on a thorough understanding of the underlying complexity and an optimisation of the investment finally translating technical excellence into real-world benefits to serve a growing market.Both aim at providing Europe with independent access to information, and are important assets for global co-operation and partnership either as part of a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) or within the frame of a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). Both are engines for European innovation and economic growth and need to be successful to assure the long-term success in European industrial, economic and social endeavour.So, how could these programmes be approached in order to maximise their effectiveness? The Galileo and GMES programmes both produce interim products, designed to be passed on to specialist companies who add value to them to derive operational products and services for end-users. It is these end-users - the real customers - that drive the whole supply chain. Without them, there is no point in launching the satellites in the first place.These specialist companies will typically have their own product strategy and good knowledge of the commercial and competitive landscape around them. They need to establish the value of being involved in such a programme and must be confident of the technical and commercial path ahead of them. To do this they have generally planned their developments through road maps, which show how the proposed new products and services fit into their own corporate plans and to meet the evolving demands of a wider market.For typically small and specialised companies, to build an investment case needs a good view of the market, confidence in sustainable demand and where time-to-market is relatively long, a source of interim funding to support their activity. Having enjoyed a 30-year heritage in the design and operation of space programmes, VEGA is a company who has been closely involved with the specification and delivery of the interim products, and work on Galileo and GMES has led to an ever-closer involvement with the end-user suppliers - the so-called downstream market. As a result of their involvement, the company believes that there are three important steps that the institutional bodies should consider in order to make Galileo and GMES successful.Firstly, there should be a sustainable demand pattern. The EC and national governments are important users of end-products for the implementation of their policies. They can help to create a framework in which a sustainable market can emerge by federating their own demand. If they can consolidate their requirements, make them clear to industry, and give a clear indication of the volumes required and the amount they are prepared to pay, it will be much easier for industry to plan investment and capacity building.Secondly, cash-flow during the early stages of a programme is vital to long-term success. The institutions can provide interim funding in the form of R

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