Value created by ESA's Ground Systems Engineering and Operations activities [Apr/2020]
In preparation of Space19+ and to inform decision-makers on the impact of their investment on the European economy and society, ESA conducted several studies to assess the socio-economic benefits of its programmes.
One of these assessments evaluates the socio-economic impact of ESA’s ground systems and mission operations activities over the period 2000-2018 and provides a foresight analysis on future critical key technologies for innovation, industrial competitiveness and technological spill-overs.
Supported by the European industry, ESA’s Directorate of Operations (D/OPS) develops and provides complex and innovative ground systems engineering and operations solutions such as the unique Mission Operations Infrastructure required to operate first of a kind, extremely challenging and complex space missions. The outputs of ground segment engineering and mission operations activities over the past 50 years confer European organisations with independent access to ground capacities and unique knowhow capable of answering the requirements of all kinds of space missions. D/OPS furthermore enables the development of innovative industrial technologies and products, the creation of industrial spin-offs, and knowledge transfer between institutions, academia and industry.
The study identifies and assesses the socio-economic impacts of ESA’s ground systems engineering and mission operations activities on affected stakeholder groups including economic, technological, strategic, societal, and environmental impacts.
With regards to economic impacts, the investments made by ESA’s Directorate of Operations have positively impacted the European economy, enabling growth, supporting the employment creation and leading to commercial spill-overs. With a total spending of €2.82 billion into the industrial ecosystem over the 2000-2018 period, ESA’s ground segment engineering and operations related activities generated a value-added of €4.17 billion over the period and created more than 23,000 person years of employment. This led to industrial core competence development in the fields of satellite control systems, flight dynamics and mission analysis, precise navigation, space communication, simulation and others, triggering an impact on the European GDP and creating spill-over effects. As such, each €1 spent on ground systems engineering and operations activities generated a value of about €3.
The study furthermore includes a foresight analysis that aims to examine a set of six technological areas and identify their high-level impacts on the future of ground segments engineering and operations. Six areas were identified to play a role in enhancing the advancement, efficiency, and security of European ground systems engineering and mission operation capabilities. The six technological areas comprise Cloud-based solutions, Cyber-security, Model-Based Systems Engineering, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence and Automation concepts, and Optical Communication systems.