Since the launch of the first rockets and satellites in the 1950s, the space sector has expanded considerably and has now become a global business. Satellites circumnavigate the entire globe. They regularly and precisely observe almost every location on Earth as well as in the universe, make direct contact with all parts of the world possible and provide geo-positioning of unparalleled accuracy.
Our society is now permeated with the vast number of applications made possible by the space sector. We have a growing need for rapidly available information. About the weather, about the development of the climate, about the correct time to sow or harvest crops, about the condition of agricultural land, about security, about traffic volume, about share prices on the other side of the world, but also about the origin of the universe or the birth of stars, planets and even our Earth. Spaceflight has developed into an enabling technology to satisfy this need for information. Space technology therefore has a considerable market and societal value in our information society.
With the increasing amount of satellite data freely available from the Copernicus programme and the guaranteed continuity of that data in the long term, this increase in value of space technology is only set to continue. This development is encouraging the use of that data as well as a demand for more data with an even greater precision and higher resolution. In turn, this stimulates the demand for the development of new sensor technologies and systems for small satellites.
The wide applicability of space technology and satellite data is creating opportunities and possibilities to make life on Earth safer, more sustainable and prosperous and to obtain more scientific insights. Opportunities that governments, knowledge institutes and commercial parties will make use of. Governments are responding to this with international collaborations to develop programmes such as Galileo and Copernicus, as well as scientific missions like Rosetta and Bepicolombo. Due to this growing demand for the availability of information, there is a global market for satellite applications that both governments and commercial parties are interested in.
Over the next decade, the growth in the market for satellite applications will accelerate the development of the required space technology: smart sensors, innovative satellite structures and ingenious launch systems. This will give rise to chains from end users, through suppliers of satellite applications, to the developers of technology.
We are standing on the eve of the development of a market that is expected to grow considerably. Growth that can occur in the entire chain from service providers, the development of information products and the supply of data to the development of sensor and satellite technology. It is a market in which both governments and commercial parties are a client.
The opportunities for the Netherlands in this largely new and virgin market are without a shadow of doubt favourable. The Netherlands has the climate and the qualities to acquire a substantial part of this market worldwide. It has an outstanding reputation in the area of space technology, is an internationally recognised specialist in several usage themes relevant for space, and is home to a large number of small innovative companies that develop high-quality satellite applications. Furthermore, the Netherlands has an attractive location and investment climate with a high-quality education system that can also provide the necessary human capital in the future.
This starting position justifies a solid ambition level and, with that, the realisation of an appropriate space policy.