Astrophysics at Adnkronos: “Too much fragmentation in Europe hinders businesses, Elon Musk advances on launchers and we are almost at a standstill”. The essay co-written with Clelia Iacomino
The economic value produced by the companies flies space activities so much so that the Space Economy, globally, reached 469 billion dollars in 2022, accounting for 0.35% of global GDP. At the same time, public funding for space also recorded triple-digit numbers last year, rising to 103 billion dollars, with 60% coming from the United States and around 15% from Europe. But between the US giant and the EU there is “the fragmentation of European states” which “hinders the work of space enterprises” observes in conversation with Adnkronos the astrophysicist Patrizia Caraveo, Inaf research manager who outlined the perimeter of the space economy in the essay ‘Europe in the Global Space Economy’ just came out. The volume was co-written with economist Clelia Iacomino of the SDA Bocconi School of Management and researcher at the SEE Lab (Space Economy Evolution Lab). “With our book Clelia and I wanted to focus on the Europe of space, we studied the economic fragmentation of the European market and therefore the problems that those who want to create a space economy in the EU have to manage” she underlines. Caraveo recalls that the essay was born under the pressure of the great work carried out by the economist Andrea Sommariva and her husband, the astrophysicist Giovanni Fabrizio Bignami, Nanni to her friends, who passed away prematurely. “Andrea wanted to talk about European institutional fragmentation, a ‘ball and chain’ that Europe carries in the economic, but also political or military fields” while “Nanni has always pushed the importance of the Space economy” indicates Patrizia Caraveo.
The essay highlights the growth of the space industry in the world with particular attention to the defense sector, a growth, the study notes, which has been remarkable, increasing by 16% in 2022 reaching a new record at 48 billion dollars. But the current geopolitical tensions have not limited the escalation of the Space economy, indeed, Caraveo and Iacomino highlight in the volume that wars have strengthened the importance of space “as a strategic operational domain for hybrid warfare tactics”. Caraveo highlights that “governments are therefore prioritizing investments not only in ‘traditional’ space applications” – such as telecommunications, navigation and Earth observation – but are also pushing for “space security and early warning” systems. to protect resources in orbit. Furthermore, human flight marks the civil space front, in parallel with institutional research programs, as indicated by the volume by Caraveo and Iacomino. And more and more “new entrants” are attracted by the socio-economic advantages and prestige of space programs.
In the volume Caraveo and Iacomino trace three ‘space ages’ for the economy in orbit: a first between 1950 and 1969 (year of the conquest of the Moon) in which government space programs – civil and military – culminated in that “small one step for a man but one giant leap for humanity” and the development of telecommunications and satellite navigation systems. The second ‘space age’ spans from 1970 to 2000 and sees the arrival of private players who become predominant in what stands as the ‘third space age’, that of our times. And in this new era of space, Europe is playing against a titan.
On the other side of the Atlantic there is no longer only NASA but also private individuals such as “Elon Musk who, underlines Patrizia Caraveo, “is raising hell because this year he wants to reach 100 launches and so far he has done already more than 70”. “So on the one hand there is an entrepreneur who has set up a war machine to launch at an extremely competitive price, from here, in Europe, we have a void” and “the figure that strikes me more is that in 2023 Europe has an absolutely insufficient launch capacity” cuts short Caraveo who in the essay also dedicates an entire section to global commercial satellite services. “As we say in the book, everyone in the EU is tearing their hair out and saying they are very worried but it gets nowhere. Now Galileo satellites are being launched – satellites that are sensitive for navigation – but in the end it will be Elon Musk’s Space (by Andreana d’Aquino)