It is Brussels’ turn to host the European Space Expo. By opening the satellite and space application showcase in the Belgian capital, European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani hailed the advent of the Galileo program and the services it offers.
Space will open new doors for Europe, spurring services in countless corners of life, European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani said as he inaugurated the European Space Expo in Brussels on September 25.
The Space Expo, in Brussels’ Toison D’Or shopping district, gives visitors an insight into the wide range of satellite applications currently available, with a focus on those provided by EU satellite navigation and Earth observation programmes. Tajani, who is also EU Industry and Enterprise Commissioner, cut the ribbon to formally open the Expo, which will run for two weeks until October 11.
Europe’s Galileo promises some of the most exciting applications, Tajani said at the opening. “Galileo is a really European project, and it will reward Europe many times over” he said. “The benefits from space are for helping people on the ground. There are services and applications that can be used by everyone.”
Applications for everyday life
Tajani gave some examples of what would be possible by the end of 2014 when 18 Galileo satellites will be in orbit. “Galileo will provide services in transport, health, fish, agriculture, environment, civil protection,” he said, and gave two example of how Galileo technology could help Europeans. “Blind people can use satellite devices to guide them on the street, telling them to go left, right or straight ahead,” Tajani said. He also explained how Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES), the European programme for Earth observation to support, among other things, emergency management, could be invaluable. “If there is an earthquake, the data and images coming in from GMES can help us decide whether to send in firemen, police, doctors, even the army,” he said.
Tajani also pointed to a Eurobarometer opinion survey released the same day. It revealed how positive Europeans are about space, and how they are increasingly aware of the EU's activities in this area, including Galileo and GMES. The survey found 81% of Europeans consider space activities important for the development of terrestrial applications, up more than 10% since 2009, while 76% say that space services are important for industrial competitiveness, growth and job creation. The survey also showed that awareness of Galileo is now at 57%, up from 40% in 2007, while the corresponding figure for GMES is 38%, up from 22% in 2009).
The political dimension of space was highlighted at the opening by Antti Peltomaki, the Deputy Director-General of the Commission’s Directorate General for Enterprise and Industry. “Space systems are assets that demonstrate we are independent and can deliver services for the whole world,” he said.
Jimmy Jamar, the Head of the European Commission’s representation in Belgium underlined the importance of the Space Expo in explaining why Europe needs a space policy. “If we want to communicate better to people what Europe does, we have to go to people,” he said.
The Space Expo has already been seen by 40 000 visitors during its stops in Copenhagen, Toulouse and Helsinki. Its interactive displays show how satellites and other space applications are making a difference for us, and how much more they can do. From weather forecasts to broadcasting and from in-car navigation to search-and-rescue, space technology has already transformed our lives in just a few years. In mapping, they can chart farmland, forests and infrastructure, accurately setting chart boundaries, helping with underground works like water mains and train tunnels, and even help archaeologists find where artefacts and buried features are.
The Space Expo also holds regular thematic presentations during the day with experts from the GSA and other orgnaisations speaking on issues like how GNSS services can help in crisis situations, how space applications can help fight disease, and how Galileo’s independence bolsters security in Europe.
The European Space Expo in Brussels runs until October 11. After Brussels, it then travels to Vienna (October 22-26, during the ITS World Conference), Larnaca, Cyprus (at the November 10-16 Second FP7 Space Conference) and London (December 3-9, coinciding with the December 3-5 'European Space Solutions' conference). A further 12 dates around Europe are planned for 2013.