The coronavirus pandemic is still destroying lives and livelihoods but, as the global economy takes its first faltering steps towards recovery, space is uniquely placed to support life on Earth.
During the crisis, space technology has helped to enable people whose jobs can be done remotely to work from home by supplementing terrestrial connections. Maintaining a skilled workforce is essential for future economic growth.
As schools and colleges switched to online lessons and blended learning, space infrastructure has connected students to their teachers across Europe, helping to safeguard the future success of the next generation.
In Italy, medics fighting the coronavirus pandemic used space technology for COVID-19 testing. Other space-enabled kit allowed doctors in France and Canada to treat patients with different medical conditions without admission to crowded hospitals, keeping the workforce healthy.
Earth observation satellites meanwhile witnessed the drop in air pollution, the closing of national borders and the slump in global trade. Now attention has turned to promoting the economic growth that is vital to human welfare, space will help to monitor and support an inclusive and sustainable recovery.
The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of the economy. Responding to the economic shock, companies across the world have used space-enabled technology to create more efficient and flexible ways of working.
And by enabling global connectivity, space technology will ensure the world is better placed to weather any future crises.
Jan Wörner, ESA Director General, said: “All the money invested in space is spent on Earth. Investing in space has created 230 000 jobs in hundreds of European space companies to date, but its true impact is far wider.
“Spending on space ripples out to support the whole economy. It extends the boundaries of human knowledge by enabling visionary scientific programmes that promote innovation and create cutting-edge technologies that go on to benefit other industries. ESA supports European companies to create innovative products and services that transform society and foster geopolitical security.
“We must continue to invest in space to improve life on Earth, from general societal aspects to the environment.”