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The Good Information Project: We're launching our 'space module'

The next cycle of TGIP will look at Ireland and the EU’s role in the current space race.

HUMANKIND HAS BEEN staring at the night skies and pondering the life’s unsolved mysteries since the beginning of time – only reaching this final frontier for ourselves mid-way through the last century. 

Space has been at the forefront of our technological advancement ever since that Golden Age of exploration. Life on Earth today is guided by our progress in space – with thousands of satellites orbiting the planet and acting as our eyes and ears in the skies.

Around the world, countries and companies are launching space programmes to further explore new frontiers and dive deeper into the universe. Exploration had traditionally been dominated by a handful of governments – but a proliferation of actors have since joined the race, which is now largely driven by commerce.

Thanks to some high-profile billionaires, interest in space exploration arguably hasn’t been this great since the 1960s. Commercial companies like those funded by Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are playing an increasing role in the space industry: launching rockets and satellites, transporting cargo and crew, building infrastructure in low-Earth orbit, advancing the conversation around space tourism, and overall, making it all more affordable. 

But issues like governance, sustainability, and security have not kept the same pace as the scientific developments over the years – leaving many questions unanswered about the future of space development and its impacts.

Many advocate for the establishment of a rules-based order for the current space age to ensure healthy and sustainable competition without any added conflicts. There’s also the issue of Earth’s orbit growing more congested with satellites and debris. 

So, where does Ireland – and the EU – fit into all of this?

Ireland’s growing space sector got a boost back in 2019 with the launch of the first National Space Strategy which set out to double space-related revenue and employment in Irish space companies by 2025. But are we on track to reach the strategy’s goals? 

What does the European Space Agency do, and what is Ireland’s involvement? Does Ireland have a place in space?

There are broader questions to address too. For instance, what role do space technologies play in tackling the climate crisis?

Should there be legislative approaches to these questions taken by the European Parliament?

And, of course, the one that comes up again and again – after the Moon, what next? Is there a chance that humans will actually be living on Mars in a few decades’ time? 

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We’ll seek to answer these questions – along with many others – as we examine Ireland and Europe’s roles in the modern space race. 

As part of TheJournal’s Good Information Project, we also want to hear your ideas: the topics you want to know more about, and how we should put one of the biggest stories of our time into context. 

We want to hear from you

The Journal launched The Good Information Project with the goal of enlisting readers to take a deep dive with us into key issues impacting Ireland right now.

You can keep up to date by signing up to The Good Information Project newsletter in the box below. If you want to join the discussion, ask questions or share your ideas on this or other topics, you can find our Facebook group here or contact us directly via WhatsApp.

This work is co-funded by Journal Media and a grant programme from the European Parliament. Any opinions or conclusions expressed in this work is the author’s own. The European Parliament has no involvement in nor responsibility for the editorial content published by the project. For more information, see here.

About the author:

Adam Daly

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