A recent survey of perceptions of issues related to EU space programmes revealed that Europeans are quite interested in the Union’s space activities (91%), as well as in policies for pooling resources for space exploration between European countries. Only 3% said they weren’t important at all. The European Space Agency (ESA) poll conducted by Harris Interactive in December 2018 surveyed more than 5000 European citizens in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and U.K.
For the next long-term EU budget (2021-2027), the Commission wants to devote €16 billion to help maintain and further enhance the EU's endeavors in space. The ESA is a major partner in the technical and operational implementation of the EU space programme. In January, the ESA signed a one-year contract with ArianeGroup, a space logistics firm, to study and prepare for a mission to the Moon.
The poll further revealed that Europeans see space programmes important for better understanding the universe and observing our planet. Moreover, they claim that space research and findings obtained from such programs could help make life on Earth easier, for example in transportation or communications. Another reason for space programs could be to protect us against threats from space. But, at the same time, fewer think that this will really protect them, should it come to pass.
ESA argues that the results can be seen as a strong endorsement for its programme proposals that will be in November this year at the Space19+ conference, the ESA’s next ministerial meeting in Seville, Spain.
Another finding: respondents significantly overestimated the cost of space activities for their nations and themselves, which the EAS says is €10 per year per citizen. The European interviewees estimated the cost of space activities at €245 per year per citizen. Germans were the furthest off, guessing €284 per person per year.
Only 4 out of 10 Europeans felt well informed about European space programmes. While many had heard of European space programmes and ESA, The survey showed that people from the five surveyed countries could not easily articulate the purpose of Europe’s activities space in space. 83% said they had heard about the EAS before, but only 37% said they really knew what it was.
Moreover, the citizens of the five biggest EU countries continued to identify two historical space superpowers, namely the U.S. and Russia. Europe is viewed as their main competitor, not China. There was a broad consensus that European countries must pool their resources to excel in space.
In all of the European countries surveyed, the weight attributed to Europe in the field of space research exceeded that which they credited to their own country. Even 85% of the British citizens polled said this. They consider it important that European countries pool their resources for space activities.
(Text author: Paul Hockenos)