Meld. St. 32 (2012-2013)

Between heaven and earth: Norwegian space policy for business and public benefit — Meld. St. 32 (2012–2013) Report to the Storting (White Paper)

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9 The Government’s commitment to space

The Government is committed to space activity, and will work to ensure that it continues to serve as a tool for Norwegian interests. Four strategic goals have been set: profitable companies, growth and employment; meeting important needs of society and user groups; greater return on international space collaboration; and high-quality national administration of Norwegian space activity.

To accomplish the four goals, the Government has prepared a number of priorities. What follows are the top priorities associated with each goal.

9.1 Profitable companies, growth and employment

The Government’s industrial policy is intended to help create an environment in which companies succeed and have the ability to grow. The authorities seek to provide the most stable and predictable framework conditions possible; it is the companies themselves that must seize opportunities. The Norwegian space sector is no exception to this general perspective.

Through the basic mechanisms of technology development, market access and system insight, Norwegian investments in space activities have helped to promote domestic economic growth and development. International collaboration in concert with complementary national framework conditions has enabled those three mechanisms to boost profitability, growth and employment in Norwegian companies.

The Government therefore intends to carry out the following measures (see Box 9.1).

Textbox 9.1 Measures

The Government will:

  • Work to ensure that public investment in space activity strengthens value creation and business development

  • Work to enhance market access, technological development and system insight as means to stimulate Norwegian business growth and development

  • Help ensure that Norway benefits as much as possible from its European space collaboration

  • Foster conditions under which Norwegian industrial participation in ESA programmes contributes to greater strength in other technology areas

  • Work to ensure that Norwegian industry takes advantage of the opportunities inherent in ESA’s principle of guaranteed industrial return, and that Norwegian industry is sufficiently competitive to obtain contracts in EU space programmes

  • Help to ensure that Norwegian downstream companies gain more benefit from participation in ESA programmes

  • Help to ensure that downstream companies enhance their competitive strength and export potential

  • Help to ensure that space-related investments addressing national needs also help to trigger value creation in Norwegian industry, provided the approach is consistent with choosing the most cost-effective solutions

  • Use policy and funding instruments strategically to promote service development and commercial success in business segments with significant growth potential and comparative advantages

  • Help to ensure that Norwegian businesses and other users of earth observation data have the access to data they need, by:

    • helping to develop a commercialisation strategy for satellite data

    • considering Norwegian participation in international satellite collaboration to secure access to useful data

    • studying the need for coordinated national procurement of satellite data

    • assessing the costs and benefits of an open data policy for raw data owned by the state

  • Help to ensure that relevant industrial actors are informed about opportunities in the Norwegian space sector

  • Consider, in kind with other industries, the potential for an Arena project in space-related research and business development, and in due course a Norwegian Centres of Expertise programme.

9.2 Meeting important needs of society and user groups

These days, space-based applications reach into many areas of everyday Norwegian life. Space operations have become essential to operating our society safety and efficiently and to pursuing key policy objectives in the High North and in climate and environmental policy.

Increasingly, space-based infrastructure has strategic value by virtue of its importance to the exercise of governmental authority and the provision of critical services. Protecting Norway’s interests requires a certain degree of national control and independent capability, even when services can be purchased commercially. Norway has special needs in the High North, and there is no guarantee that actors outside of Norway will have the ability or interest to develop systems that successfully address them. Having influence over the development of essential infrastructure will be of significance to public security and crisis management. Norway’s public officials and research and technology communities must therefore possess enough insight and competence to identify promising solutions, to be competent parties in procurement transactions and international collaboration, and to develop and implement national solutions where appropriate.

The Government therefore intends to carry out the following measures (see Box 9.2).

Textbox 9.2 Measures

The Government will:

  • Work to ensure that space activities are able to help meet important social and user needs in a cost-effective manner

  • Actively employ supplementary national programmes to address Norwegian user needs

  • Help to provide an operating framework in which Norwegian technology companies and other centres of expertise can develop and implement space-based systems that meet Norwegian user needs

  • Work to ensure that Norwegian space research and expertise maintain a high international level

  • Help to ensure that Norwegian space activities get the most out of the expertise available in Norwegian research and educational institutions

  • Extend the space research programme at the Research Council of Norway

  • Work to achieve good, robust satellite navigation coverage in the High North and the Arctic

  • Review how best to address Norwegian requirements for satellite communications in the High North

  • Work to exploit the potential of satellite observation to contribute to climate and environmental policies

  • Continue efforts to deal with vulnerabilities associated with the use of satellite systems

  • Actively participate in efforts to establish international guidelines for the reduction of space debris

  • Work to make satellite-based services available as a key element of transport policy.

9.3 Greater return on international space collaboration

International collaboration has always been – and always will be – the backbone of Norwegian space efforts. ESA membership has served Norway well in several ways. It has helped the country to develop a competitive space industry, to accumulate expertise within the Norwegian state and business community, and to internationalise and strengthen Norwegian research programmes.

In the future, we must also be good at promoting our interests in forums other than ESA. Increasingly, important issues are settled at the EU. As a result, Norwegian space policy has taken on aspects of the country’s European policy. Norwegian interests increasingly have to be promoted from the outside, in forums where we are not a member, or where our right to participate is limited. Galileo and Copernicus will help resolve very important challenges faced by Norway. An active Norwegian approach to EU policy-making in space is therefore essential for a variety of reasons, including: to secure influence over infrastructure important to Norway; to safeguard the interests of Norwegian industry, researchers and user groups; and to position Norway for a future in which the EU increasingly sets the political agenda for European space activity.

The Government therefore intends to carry out the following measures (see Box 9.3).

Textbox 9.3 Measures

The Government will:

  • Continue Norwegian ESA participation as a key tool for promoting Norwegian space interests. In 2012, a commitment of 144.4 million euros has been declared towards Norway’s continued participation in optional ESA programmes

  • Work to secure Norwegian interests in EU space programmes

  • Work to ensure that Copernicus and Galileo perform capably in Norwegian areas of interest

  • Ensure that Norwegian authorities have sufficient ability to pursue Norwegian interests in international space forums

  • Use bilateral agreements where appropriate to safeguard and pursue Norwegian interests

  • Continue Norway’s commitment to international collaboration in space-related research

9.4 High-quality national administration of space activity

In order for space activity to best serve Norwegian interests, expertise is required both within the Norwegian state and in Norwegian technology circles and user groups. Norwegian authorities must be able to identify needs, assess system proposals and ensure effective implementation regardless of whether the services or infrastructure in question are to be developed nationally, developed in collaboration with other nations or purchased from commercial providers. To ensure that good solutions are developed and implemented in a sound manner, and to safeguard Norwegian interests in international collaborations, we must draw together the public-sector expertise available in administration, technology and international relations.

Since the 1960s, the geographical advantages of Norwegian-hosted ground infrastructure have been exploited to develop space activities now regarded as world class in certain sector niches. Among these are the balloon releases and sounding-rocket launches at Andøya and the downlink services for polar-orbit satellites at Svalbard, Jan Mayen Island and Antarctica. As the future unfolds, Norway’s geographical location will remain an advantage for space-related ground infrastructure.

The state currently has administrative and ownership responsibility for several actors in the Norwegian space sector. The Andøya Rocket Range AS, Norwegian Space Centre Properties AS and Kongsberg Satellite Services AS have been valuable tools in developing key aspects of Norway’s space effort. This effort has resulted in a foundation for commercial growth in the companies, which increasingly derive their revenues from the international market. Due to the combination of public ownership, strategic interests and commercial factors, a clarification of the state’s different roles is called for.

The Government therefore intends to carry out the following measures (see Box 9.4).

Textbox 9.4 Measures

The Government will:

  • Strengthen collaboration and coordination between relevant ministries

  • Use the Norwegian Space Centre as the state’s organ for strategy, coordination and practise to ensure that space is exploited efficiently for the benefit of Norwegian society

  • Strengthen the Norwegian Space Centre’s capacity for analysis and consultation

  • Facilitate the use of space-related ground infrastructure on the Norwegian mainland as appropriate

  • Continue to exploit Svalbard’s geographical advantages with regard to space activity in accordance with existing laws and regulations

  • Facilitate the further utilisation of Jan Mayen Island for space-related activity

  • Facilitate continued Norwegian space activity in Antarctica in accordance with the Antarctic Treaty

  • Ensure effective organisation of space activities in the Norwegian public sector, with measures that include:

    • undertaking a detailed assessment of the state’s interests in the ownership of ARR, Norwegian Space Centre Properties and KSAT, and of the significance those companies have as sectoral policy instruments

    • working to achieve as much transparency as possible regarding subsidy programmes and awards in the Norwegian space sector

    • assessing how governance dialogue with the Norwegian Space Centre can be improved

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