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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1 The Government’s goals for Norwegian space activity

The Government will work to ensure that space activity remains a means to advance Norwegian interests. Four 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.

1.1 Profitable companies, growth and employment

Today, space-based applications are important to all sectors of the economy. The domain of space technology extends well beyond companies that produce satellite and rocket components. We observe it spilling into other technology areas, through the development of products and services that rely on satellite-based services, and we observe it facilitating economic activity more generally. To assess the full impact of space activities on value creation, our perspective must encompass more than traditional space technology industry. The Government will work to ensure that public investment in space activities strengthens wealth creation and business development.

When Norway joined ESA in 1987, there were no satellite navigation services for civilian users. Most earth observation was the product of military intelligence satellites. The satellite communications market was still in its infancy. Today, satellite-based services reach into every corner of society, from Google Earth and automobile navigation systems to landslide monitoring and advanced control systems for offshore petroleum operations. The proliferation of satellites in combination with increased data processing capacity, the global spread of the Internet and the rise of mobile communications infrastructure make satellite services increasingly relevant to all aspects our lives. A large and growing industry has consequently evolved to offer services and equipment made possible by satellite communications, navigation and earth observation. Such downstream services and equipment in turn contribute importantly to value creation throughout the value chain, facilitating business activity in sectors ranging from natural resources to transportation. The Government intends to facilitate the competitive strength and export potential of Norway’s downstream industry. In addition, it may be useful to formalise collaboration between actors in certain technological niches, such as satellite navigation, satellite communications or earth observation. The Government will therefore assess, in common with other business areas, whether an Arena project is needed for space-related research and business development, and in the longer term whether a Norwegian Centres of Expertise programme is needed.

Norway’s commitment to space has helped promote business growth and development in large part through technology development, market access and system insight. The Government will work to ensure that these three mechanisms continue to contribute to development in Norwegian industry. Norwegian companies that have participated in ESA development programmes have seen their technological capabilities improve. Norwegian ESA membership has also made it possible for companies to conduct valuable trials of newly designed technical components. The national development support funding programme for space innovation, Nasjonale følgemidler, has been used actively to strengthen the positive effects of ESA membership on Norwegian industry. Nevertheless, much of the value of our ESA participation has come in the form of spillover to other technology areas, such as defence, aviation, offshore petroleum and ship transport. The Government will seek to ensure that private sector participation in ESA programmes continues to generate spillover effects in other technology areas.

Norwegian participation in the EU’s Galileo, EGNOS and Copernicus space programmes allows Norwegian businesses to compete for contracts on an equal footing with companies based in EU countries. Similarly, Norwegian participation in ESA has expanded market access for Norwegian companies with space-related products and services. The Government will work to ensure that Norwegian businesses take advantage of opportunities provided under ESA’s principle of guaranteed industrial return, and that Norwegian businesses are sufficiently competitive to obtain contracts in EU space programmes.

Early insight into satellite-based infrastructure systems is a key to success when developing associated products and services. Such insight has been an important objective of Norway’s public commitment to space, and normally it can be obtained only by taking active part in the development of the systems in question. Norwegian authorities and businesses have gained valuable system insight from Norway’s participation in EU and ESA programmes. This has strengthened the competitiveness of Norwegian products and services designed to exploit satellite-based navigation and earth observation systems. Through active participation in European space programmes, the Government will work to ensure that Norway obtains insight into systems under development as early as possible in the process. ESA activities are primarily focused on the upstream industry, in particular the development of satellite and launch technologies. But companies whose main focus is downstream report that they, too, see value in ESA participation, because of the technological insight they stand to gain. The Government will work to ensure that Norwegian firms in the downstream sector see greater benefit from participation in ESA programmes.

The 2012 PwC report supports the contention that important aspects of Norway’s public-funding model for the space sector are working as intended. Space activities have positive ripple effects in the Norwegian economy, and the country’s various support instruments are synergistically linked. Commercial activities account for a larger portion of the space industry in Norway than they do in many other countries, and Norwegian industry has achieved substantial market share in segments of the space-based services sector, particularly those related to satellite communications and earth observation. On the other hand, the PwC report points out growth challenges within the sector. To fully exploit the potential for value creation, it may be necessary to modify the policy instruments whose purpose is to ensure that benefits return to the Norwegian economy. In the Government’s view, it is important that space-sector investments made to satisfy national needs also contribute to value creation in Norwegian industry. Apart from our participation in EU and ESA development programmes, the primary tool for promoting value creation so far has been the national development support programme for innovation, Nasjonale følgemidler. The growing importance of space activities outside the traditional space technology sector increases the urgency of assessing whether existing industrial policy instruments can be adjusted to better reach enterprises that stand to benefit from space activities despite having no direct link to the production and operation of space infrastructure.

The range of potential policy actions is large. An example would be to ensure that Norwegian companies that exploit earth observation data are able to gain access to the data they require. The PwC report points out that public agencies are major customers of earth observation data services. This customer role may trigger further technology development and ensure continued demand for services. A commercialisation strategy together with a strong domestic market may boost value creation. Norwegian participation in multinational satellite projects, coordination of national public-sector data procurement and an open data policy for state-owned raw data are possible means to achieve this. The Government will seek to ensure that businesses and other users of earth observation data have access to the data they require. The Government will also evaluate the measures mentioned above.

Another important policy tool for wealth creation will be active participation in European infrastructure programs like Galileo and Copernicus. Already this has provided early insight into system capabilities and limitations, helping to position Norwegian companies in the market for products and services that exploit such systems. Public procurement in the space sector should include an assessment of how intended purchases can help generate growth and development in Norwegian industry. It may also be necessary to adjust public development support so that it reaches companies further out in the value chain than the companies that produce satellites, launch vehicles and ground infrastructure. It will be important to inform all relevant actors of the opportunities inherent in Norwegian space activity. The Government will use policy mechanisms strategically to promote service development and commercial success in market segments with significant growth potential and comparative advantages.

1.2 Meeting important needs of society and user groups

Space-based applications affect most aspects of daily life these days. The use of space technology has become a precondition for the safe and efficient functioning of our society, including the pursuit of key policy objectives regarding the High North, climate and the environment. The Government will work to ensure that space activities help meet important needs of our society and of various user groups, and to do so cost-efficiently.

Space-based infrastructure is growing more strategically significant by dint of its increasing importance to critical services and the exercise of governmental authority. A certain degree of national control and independent capability is required to secure our interests, even in the case of commercially obtainable services. Norway has special needs in the High North and it cannot be assumed that actors outside of Norway will have the ability or interest to develop good solutions. The ability to influence the development of essential infrastructure will have consequences for public safety and crisis management. It is therefore important that Norwegian research and technology communities possess the insight and expertise required to identify workable solutions; such expertise is also necessary to be a competent counterpart in procurement transactions and international partnerships and, when appropriate, to develop and implement national systems. The Government will help to provide framework conditions in which Norwegian actors can develop and implement space-based systems geared to Norwegian user needs, whether through national initiatives or international collaboration. In so doing, the Government wishes to encourage a continued flow of expertise from Norway’s research and educational institutions to Norwegian space programmes and enterprises. A deep understanding of space is an important part of this expertise. The Government intends to continue the Research Council of Norway’s space research programme.

Satellite monitoring is already a very important tool for understanding the complex interplay of factors that affects our climate, for assessing the extent of pollution transported over long distances and for monitoring other damage to the natural environment. The importance of such monitoring will in all likelihood increase further as new, more sophisticated environmental monitoring satellites enter operation, as exemplified by ESA’s Sentinel programme. Environmental monitoring, especially of northern regions and for climate study, must provide stable and continuous data access and adequate areal coverage. Satellite monitoring itself cannot solve our climate and environmental challenges, but it has become a useful tool in preparing decision makers to make informed decisions. For Norway, one key priority is to ensure data access for Norwegian experts and environmental authorities. Another is to contribute in a spirit of solidarity to systems that will inform the global debate on climate and the environment. The Government will work to realise the potential of satellite observations to advance climate and environmental policy.

Good satellite systems to cover Norwegian needs in the High North are one of the key objectives of Norwegian space activity. In a few years, thanks to Galileo and Copernicus, good systems will be in place for navigation and earth observation in the High North. The biggest remaining challenge is the need for communication systems – in particular, broadband services for ships. Existing satellite communication systems provide little or no coverage north of 75 degrees latitude. Communications satellites moving in polar orbit can solve this challenge. Several countries with interests in the High North have begun studying polar-satellite communications options, but so far, no immediately realisable plans exist. As recently as a few years ago, the problems associated with navigation and communications in the central Arctic Ocean were of purely theoretical interest. Few if any ship owners wanted to sail into the massive ice flows north of 80 degrees. Today, Norway’s fishing fleet operates regularly at 82 degrees north, and the offshore petroleum industry, too, is moving steadily into the Arctic. Within a few years, we may witness a significant increase in ship traffic in the Northeast Passage. The steady rise of human activity in the area intensifies the need for good systems to aid navigation, communications, weather forecasting, sea rescue and monitoring. Experience shows that space-based systems can solve such challenges cost-effectively. Norway is determined to be a responsible steward of the far north. A major challenge in the years ahead will be to see that Norwegian authorities and users have access to the space-based infrastructure required for safe, sustainable, efficient High North operations. The Government will actively consider how best to address Norway’s need for satellite communications in the High North, and will facilitate the implementation of good, robust satellite navigation coverage.

Transport is one of the sectors that have undergone the greatest change in recent years as a result of the increasing use of satellite-based infrastructure. It is also the sector whose use of satellite systems is most obvious on a daily basis. Satellite-based infrastructure in the transport sector includes technology for navigation, communications and earth observation. Satellite-based services are important aids to maritime, aviation and land transport. The Government will work to ensure that satellite-based services can be used as important elements in transport policy.

Because of technological advances in recent years, Norwegian authorities face fewer limitations on their ability to act on their own. This applies in particular to the emergence of relatively inexpensive small satellites. The launch of AISSat-1 in 2010 showed that the Norwegian authorities, with modest effort, are able to finance and operate highly effective space infrastructure at the national level. The operation of small national satellites will never replace multilateral collaboration on large, complex systems such as Galileo and Copernicus, but it can be a useful supplement. More information is required on the potential for domestic space infrastructure to support Norwegian users in government and business. The Government will actively use supplementary national initiatives as a means of addressing Norwegian user needs.

As with all systems that society makes itself dependent on, the increased reliance on satellite-based systems represents a potential vulnerability. As satellite systems gain importance to critical applications in aviation, civil preparedness and activities related to national defence, they may of course become targets for hostile attack. Natural phenomena, such as space weather, can also damage satellite infrastructure, as can space debris. Addressing vulnerabilities has become an important task for the authorities. The EU and the United States are leaders in the effort to establish international guidelines aimed at reducing the increasing amount of space debris in key satellite orbits. The Government will continue its efforts to address vulnerabilities associated with the use of satellite systems, and it will contribute to the task of establishing international guidelines to reduce space debris.

1.3 Greater return on international space collaboration

International collaboration has always been – and will remain – the backbone of Norwegian involvement in space. ESA membership has served Norway well as we developed our own competitive group of space-related businesses, expanded our space technology expertise and internationalised our research programmes. In the years to come, the Government will extend Norway’s participation in ESA as a key way of promoting Norwegian interests in space. At ESA’s ministerial-level council meeting in November 2012, Norway declared a commitment of 144.4 million euros to optional ESA programmes.

In addition to participating in ESA, however, it increasingly will be necessary to collaborate with the EU. Galileo and Copernicus will play roles in solving some of the key challenges that Norway faces. Norway should take an active approach to EU space policy in order to gain influence over infrastructure projects of significance to this country as well as to protect the interests of Norwegian industry, researchers and user groups while positioning Norway for a future in which the EU increasingly determines the broad outlines of European space policy. The Government will pursue proactive policies to secure Norwegian interests in EU space programmes, and it will work to ensure that Copernicus and Galileo perform well in Norwegian areas of interests.

Today, significant changes are coming into view that will require Norwegian policy adjustments if we are to ensure that our needs are effectively addressed in the future. For years, ESA has been the mainstay of Norwegian space activity. ESA participation will remain indispensable, but as time passes, that participation will no longer be sufficient to protect Norwegian interests. EU space programmes have emerged as necessary supplements to those of ESA.

ESA has its role to play as an arena for collaboration in research and development. The EU has the financial and political weight to build and operate large, costly infrastructure systems. Galileo and Copernicus will help Norway address key issues related to the High North, the climate and the environment. Active Norwegian participation in these programmes has already helped ensure that they address Norway’s special needs; it has also given Norwegian participants early insight into opportunities linked to the programmes.

The EU’s rise as a key player in European (and Norwegian) space activity presents Norwegian authorities with a new set of challenges regarding international collaboration in space. Until recently, most relevant matters were settled in ESA – an organisation focused on research, development and technology, in which Norway enjoys full membership. Norwegian interests have been addressed through Norwegian participation in ESA governing bodies. Increasingly, key matters are now resolved at the EU. As a result, Norwegian space policies are becoming increasingly similar to the country’s general European policy. Norwegian interests must increasingly be championed in forums where we are not a member, or where our right to participate is limited. That makes it more urgent to strengthen the diplomatic dimension of Norwegian space activity. We must be good at promoting our interests in forums other than ESA, and particularly within the EU system. The Government will therefore seek to make sure Norwegian authorities are capable of successfully pursuing Norwegian interests in international space forums.

Norway’s longstanding collaboration with Canada on radar satellites has demonstrated that Norway can achieve substantial benefits from bilateral cooperation in specific topic areas. The Government will maintain a pragmatic approach to the use of such agreements and will use them actively when appropriate to advance Norwegian interests. The Government will continue Norway’s commitment to international collaboration in space-related research.

1.4 High-quality national administration of space activity

If space activities are to serve Norwegian interests, expertise is required in crucial segments of the Norwegian bureaucracy as well as in technology centres and user groups. Whether services and infrastructure are to be developed nationally, internationally or through commercial procurement, Norwegian authorities must be able to identify national needs, to judge the quality of technical proposals and to ensure their effective implementation. The demand for expertise is heightened by the fact that the technologies in question are often highly advanced, with user benefits that cut across traditional sector lines in public administration. The importance that Norway places on international cooperation and international projects heightens the demand for expertise further. To ensure that effective solutions can be properly developed and implemented, and that Norway’s interests are protected in the international partnerships that may be required, we must draw together the expertise available in administration, technology and international relations. The Government intends to strengthen interaction and coordination among the relevant ministries.

The Norwegian Space Centre (NSC) is responsible for administering public appropriations on space activity, advancing Norwegian interests in international space programmes and advising Norwegian authorities and businesses on space matters. The NSC’s advisory function will gain importance in the years ahead. Our society’s growing dependence on space-based infrastructure systems increases demand for structured analysis of user needs and proposed technical concepts – analysis that is necessary to ensure that public investment in the sector is carried out in the most efficient manner. Public- and private-sector user groups will also be requiring more counsel, because they will want to make sure that the systems receiving investment are utilised optimally. The Government wants the NSC to remain the state body in charge of strategy, coordination and implementation, making efficient use of space for the benefit of Norwegian society. The Government will therefore strengthen the NSC’s analytical and advisory capacities.

Norway’s geographical advantages for space-oriented ground infrastructure on the mainland and elsewhere has enabled the country, since the 1960s, to scale up activities that have achieved world class standing in certain space-sector niches. Balloon releases and sounding rocket launches from Andøya are among them. Others include the ground stations in Svalbard, on Jan Mayen Island and in Antarctica for communicating with satellites in polar orbit. The Government will seek to ensure that operators of space-related ground infrastructure can continue to take advantage of Norway’s favourable geographical location.

Since 2004, when the Norwegian Space Centre was converted from a foundation to an administrative agency, the state has had a 90 per cent ownership stake in the Andøya Rocket Range AS (Kongsberg Gruppen owns the remaining 10 per cent) and 100 per cent ownership of Norwegian Space Centre Properties, which in turn owns half of Kongsberg Satellite Services AS (Kongsberg Gruppen owns the remaining half). The Norwegian Space Centre manages the state’s ownership interests on behalf of the Ministry of Trade and Industry. These companies have been important tools in developing key aspects of Norway’s space effort. The investments have created a commercial basis for strong industrial growth in the companies, which increasingly derive their revenue from international markets.

The companies’ growth and their increasing earnings from market activities make it necessary to examine the structure and degree of state ownership. Clearer distinctions may be needed between the administrative, political and commercial aspects of the state’s involvement in space activities. The Government will seek to determine, by evaluation, the most appropriate organisational structure for public-sector space programmes, and will take the necessary steps to realise that structure.

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