It was the perfect location: the European Space Expo - the travelling showcase for space applications – was comfortably placed in the shadow of a 55m tall, full-scale model of the Ariane 5 rocket, and a stone’s throw from a training model of Russia’s Mir space station.
From June 25 to 28, the Space Expo was planted in the grounds of Toulouse’s Cité de l'espace (City of Space), the popular French theme park that offers a unique insight into the conquest of space. Visitors – including busloads of children enjoying end-of-term days out – were able to include the Space Expo in their trip as they learned about the many ways space has had an impact on us.
The Cité de l'espace also includes Soyuz space modules, models of important satellites, and other exhibits, as well as a planetarium and an IMAX 3D cinema to learn about space exploration. The European Space Expo offered an ideal addendum for visitors, showing how space technologies now help us with broadcasting, telephoning, in-car satellite navigation systems, security, and a myriad of other applications. The Space Expo’s interactive displays showed space’s wide range of innovative technologies and services, revealing how much we depend on satellites today.
The Space Expo also had a full programme of presentations by experts in various aspects of space. It included talks from the European Commission’s Rudy Aernoudt on why we need Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) for operational Earth observation capacity; from Benoit Meyssignac of the Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES), the French government space agency, on how GMES helps study rising sea levels; and from Alain Bénéteau, the president of the Network of European Regions Using Space Technologies (NEREUS), on how space programmes help regions. Henri.Malosse, the president of the Employers' group of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) concluded the exhibition by explaining how important this part of the economy is for the European development.
Other Space Expo presentations were made by representatives from Planète Sciences, the French association dedicated to the sciences; from Telespazio, the Rome-based space systems services company; from the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport and Housing; from Météo-France, the French national meteorological service; from Cannes-based aerospace giant Thales Alenia Space; from satellite signals designer Nav On Time; and from Angeo, a French company using GPS technology to help visually impaired persons.
The market for global satellite navigation applications expected to reach €240 billion by 2020 as global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) develop further. The European GNSS Agency (GSA), which manages and monitors Europe’s satellite programmes, aims to regulate the sector while fostering satellite innovation.
The European Space Expo took place at the same time as the Toulouse Space Show, which ran from June 25 to 28. Europe’s top annual space event, the Toulouse Space Show gathered officials, researchers and business leaders involved in space.
The Space Expo now travels to Helsinki (August 17-21), Brussels (September 24 September – October 9), Vienna (October 22-26), Larnaca, Cyrpus (at the November 10-16 Second FP7 Space Conference) and London (December 1-6, coinciding with the Space applications days December 3-5).