Space Exploration and Innovation

Language: English

Publication date: 17th May 2010

Space exploration, the human and robotic investigation and discovery of extra-terrestrial environments, has been driven since its outset by the USA and the Soviet Union/ Russia. However even in these traditional
space-faring nations space exploration is at a turning point: the International Space Station will be extended at least until 2020 and most probably to 2028, the US Space Shuttle programme is coming to an end, and a key decision on human spaceflight in the USA has been to cancel the Constellation (Moon) programme; meanwhile developing countries such as China have shown that they are able to master human access to space and India has increasing ambitions in this area. Europe is currently in the process of developing its future plans for space exploration within this global context.

While there are a number of rationales for investing in space exploration activities (political, technical, scientific, educational etc.), this report focused on the impact of space exploration on wider European innovation activities and the resulting impact of these innovations in the economic, social and environmental domains. The report considered the role of space exploration on innovation from two angles:
• Firstly, the historic impact of space exploration generated via spin-offs from past investments
• Secondly, a forward look at the potential impacts that might arise from a more proactive approach to innovation via closer collaboration between space and non-space sectors in the development of technology
and solutions to meet both space exploration and non-space challenges – so-called ‘Common, Joint or Synergistic Research and Development (R&D)’.