On 17 February 2017, the latest edited volume by the standing ESSCA space policy group had the honour of being the object of a book launch ceremony at the headquarters of the European Space Agency (ESA), Paris.
Both editors of volume Theorizing European Space Policy (Lexington, 2017), Dr Thomas Hoerber (ESSCA) and Dr Emmanuel Sigalas (European Commission) were welcomed by Dr Kai-Uwe Schrogl, the Head of the Relations with Member States Department in the Director General’s Cabinet, and about 20 other distinguished guests, such as the Director of the Paris office of the German Aerospace Agency, Dr. Isabelle Reutzel.
Thomas Hoerber started by outlining the achievements of the standing ESSCA space policy research group so far. After a timid start with a first special issue in Space Policy (2012), two rather ground-breaking books have been released, one on European Space Policy, edited by Paul Stephenson and Thomas Hoerber (Routledge, 2016) and the above-mentioned Theorizing European Space Policy, on which the book lauch event focused..
The purpose has always been to bring two communities together that at first sight do not have much in common: the space engineering and technical community and the European studies community. This made sense because space policy has been neglected for the longest time in European Studies, European history and Political Science and perhaps also in European politics altogether. Furthermore, space policy has definitely acquired political importance beyond its technical aspects. Today they the EU is engaged in space and in a closer cooperation with the ESA.
The fundamental research question has always been: can and should European space policy contribute to the European integration process?
Roy Gibson, the founding director of the ESA, said at the 50th anniversary of ESA, ‘we were helping to create Europe’. The current book, previous and future publications will ask: where are we on that point? A forthcoming new special issue in 2017 with Space Policy on the ‘Popularisation of Space’, edited by Harald Koepping Athanasopoulos and Thomas Hoerber will do exactly that, just like the 8th ESSCA space policy workshop which will be held in April 2017 at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. Another edited book will be published with Routledge featuring the papers from that latest workshop.
Eventually it is hoped that such events will lead to an institutionalisation of European space policy research. Bringing the space engineering community closer together with the European studies community has finally worked. The very event of the book launch at the ESA bears evidence to this. Opening up the discussion to the wider public is the next objective, for example through the topic of science fiction and its impact on the perception of space policy, but also on actors of space policy. Creating a permanent framework in which such exchanges can take place is the objective.
The editors of the current book would like to thank the ESA for their welcome, for the opportunity of this book launch and for the ongoing and generous support with advice, time and expertise.
They would also like to express their sincere thanks for the precious support for the standing research group provided by the Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF)