ESA’s Digital Agenda for Space offers yet another opportunity for ESA’s Member States to enhance their involvement in space beyond that of developing space infrastructure. Access to ESA’s information blurs traditional boundaries and leads to new industries, new business- and partnership-models. These improve Europe’s economy and competitiveness by making more countries capable of bidding to the rest of the world for space contracts.
Traditional manufacturers are already changing to maintain a place in the future. Again, the recognition of the value of information and knowledge (ie big data) lie at the root of this transition.
The shift seems subtle but is seismic in implication: the knowledge of how to build operate and exploit the space systems will determine commercial advantages. The ability to access and manage knowledge is key to flexibly responding to a constantly changing market.
Advanced manufacturing will be driven by 3D printing, robotics and autonomous systems; ESA’s Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in Harwell, Oxfordshire is directly adjacent to ESA’s UK facility.