The space economy is constantly growing and evolving. What used to be a predominantly government-driven sector now sees increasing interest from commercial actors. Nevertheless, the governments keep playing a vital role not only due to the budgets they allocate but also thanks to their policy-making prerogative. Most space-faring countries coordinate their space activities through dedicated agencies: NASA in the US, CNSA in China, JAXA in Japan, Roscosmos in Russia, ISRO in India, and ESA in Europe. It is worth noting that with its 22 member states and 3 associate members, ESA is the only example of a transnational space agency. Such a unique setup allows ESA to develop synergies between its members, thanks to coordinating their resources, knowledge, and technical capacities.
A collaborative model represented by ESA supports initiatives that deepen the bonds and understanding between the European states. For instance, the now well-known European Centre for Space Law was created in 1989 to facilitate constructive and interdisciplinary dialogue on space law across all the member states and has been very successful ever since. Drawing on this good experience, ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher has established this year the European Centre for Space Economy and Commerce, in short ECSECO, which provides a European platform for interdisciplinary discussions and research on space economy and commerce. The activities of ECSECO will support further development of the space economy and commerce in Europe and go in line with one of the five priorities of ESA Agenda 2025: boosting commercialisation.
On 4th July, we organised the launch event of ECSECO, which gathered a selection of high-level actors and analysts of the European space economy, including ESA DG Josef Aschbacher. Interdisciplinarity lies at the heart of ECSECO, which was visible during the event as our guests represented various professional backgrounds and came from the private and public sectors and academia. The event officially opened the applications for membership in ECSECO, and since then, we have welcomed nearly 200 members to our community. We look forward to the first General Meeting of members, which will be an opportunity to meet with the members for the first time. The Secretariat of ECSECO is located in Vienna and supported by ESPI. We eagerly anticipate the exchanges and discussions between the members of ECSECO and their impact on the further development of the space economy and commerce in Europe.