The thematic focus in this latest edition addresses access to space and the evolution of related space activities from a European and global context. The threefold structure of the yearbook remains the same as for earlier years. The first part deals sets out a comprehensive overview of the economic, political, technological, and institutional trends that affect space activities in Europe and throughout the world in 2015.
The second part approaches the overall theme, providing views and insights from eminent professionals in the space field. This part of the Yearbook opens with a contribution by Jean-Marc Astorg from CNES on issues and perspectives on space launch vehicles’ development with particular focus on Europe’s current launcher systems in light of the global competitive market and recent developments in the field. Thereafter Cristina T. Chaplain and Laura D. Hook from the U.S. GAO consider space as being at a crossroads, highlighting that government programmes can benefit from commercial space and other changes if long-standing challenges are addressed. Richard DalBello from Virgin Galactic next provides his thoughts on creating safe, reliable, and frequent access to space. Eurisy’s Stefaan De Mey then moves on to discuss the future of satellite applications from the end-user perspective. Shuang-Nan Zhang from the Chinese Academy of Sciences further discusses the implications of efficient access to space for space astronomy. Leopold Summerer from ESA discusses potentially transformative technologies for twenty-first century space, including more autonomous spacecraft, better radiation protection, and in space resource utilisation, among other potential game changing technologies. Another chapter by Nina Witjes, Philipp Olbrich, and Isabella Rebasso considers the topic of big data from outer space and the opportunities and challenges it brings for crisis response. James S.J. Schwartz and Tony Milligan also address some ethical constraints on near-earth resource exploitation. Jesse Phaler from ESA discusses European options for space governance, and the strategies and approaches for the public and private sector to consider leading into 2030. Keith Hayward of the Air and Space Academy of France provides the final chapter of Part II, addressing the economics of launch vehicles, focussing on new business models.
The third part carries forward the character of the Yearbook as an archive of space activities prepared in-house by ESPI, providing a comprehensive bibliography, chronology and data on ESA member states and relevant space- faring nations. In its entirety, ESPI’s Yearbook on Space Policy fills a niche in communicating space policy and space related issues to decision makers and to the broader public.