Competition in space is not a new phenomenon. The Space Race between the Soviet Union and United States was one of the defining aspects of the Cold War era. While astronauts are no longer national celebrities and media coverage has greatly diminished, competition in space remains fierce. The United States, China, Russia, Europe, and numerous others all seek to use outer space in a way that best forwards national interest.
China, in particular, has substantially increased its outer space efforts and capabilities in the post-Cold War era. China’s 2015 Defense White Paper refers to space as the “commanding height in international strategic competition”, and its commitment to active programs further underlines this strategic development. China already possesses advanced space-based C4ISR capabilities, a growing fleet of modern launch vehicles, the BeiDou satellite navigation program comparable to U.S. GPS, an array of counterspace and ASAT weapons (kinetic-kill, directed-energy, co-orbital, and cyber), and an advanced manned space program.
ORBIS is powered by ESPAS, the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System, a unique inter-institutional project aimed at strengthening the EU's efforts in the crucial area of forward planning. ESPAS brings together the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Secretariat General of the Council of the European Union and the European External Action Service to strengthen the Union's collective administrative capacity to identify and analyse the key trends and challenges, and the resulting policy choices, which are likely to confront Europe and the wider world in the decades ahead.