To emphasise the importance of the Space domain, all existing research activities in this area are now regrouped under one focus areas. This domain covers satellites and spacecraft, including launchers or any other device used for their launching or positioning, as well as all specific technologies to be implemented in space.
It is a key domain where ever more international actors, whether they are governmental (including military) or civilian actors, come forward more and more actively. Proportionally, Belgium has always invested a lot in this sector and has developed a considerable industrial base.
In the past, Defence (through RMA) already contributed substantially, in a European framework, to the “Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSSs)”. Vis-à-vis these developments, Defence will also have to broaden the research activities in this domain, coherently with its level of ambition and its capabilities development in the four domains of “Space Force Enhancement”, that is to say:
- Earth observation for intelligence purposes: algorithm development, image processing through artificial intelligence and other methods likely to improve the exploitability and relevance of images from space;
- GNSS: enhancement of the resilience of navigation and timing systems, development of solutions for operating in a GNSS-denied environment;
- Satellite Communications (SatCom): scope detailed in focus areas A2 in a spatial context (see remark);
- Space Weather: development of exploitable standardised products, improvement of exploitability and relevance of scientific predictions;
In a lesser extent and on a longer-term basis, the “Space Situation Awareness” could become a potential subject of interest.
Moreover, this focus areas will also cover matters such as:
- Researches and technologies aiming at designing, developing and launching into orbit micro- and mini satellites;
- All the details inherent to the launching into space and the stay in space, both in terms of mass/volume limitations and resistance to extreme temperature conditions;
- The constraints related to resilience in case of natural damages or even attacks targeting systems used in the space.
Remark: communication technologies are the subject of the dedicated focus areas “Communications” (A2).