A Space Situation Centre should be set up in Finland to ensure that the public authorities have the information they need for making decisions. To make full use of space operations, Finland should have a permanent and consistent national budget for these. These are the conclusions of the final report of a project that studied the various aspects of the space environment, published on 13 February 2020.
The final report of the project ‘Security dimensions and business opportunities of the new environment in space (AVAUS)’ proposes a Space Situation Centre to be set up in Finland, in cooperation with the relevant stakeholders within the EU. A Space Situation Centre is needed so that the Finnish authorities have access to up-to-date and comprehensive information on the space environment. Such important information includes data on satellite systems that may be observing Finland and on space weather and its immediate impacts on the functions of society.
The report also proposes a permanent raise to the national budget for space operations that would bring these to the same level as they are elsewhere in Europe. National financing is important for leveraging the competitiveness of Finnish players in space operations. Besides projects of the European Space Agency and EU, funds should be used to implement national research and development projects and innovative procurements from Finnish companies operating in the space sector.
The report points out that growth funding is needed to realise the growth potential of space-related business. Attracting financing to the business operations of European players in the space sector is a common cause for European countries. This is where Finland needs to be active in the EU so that Europe does not fall behind the United States and China in taking advantage of the growth in space operations.
It is important for Finland to build global partnerships in space operations. By becoming a partner of a broad chain of a space system or service operations, even a small player will have access to the competitiveness and continuity of the broader system. This will also bring continuity to services important for society, including environmental monitoring, telecommunications, and positioning and navigation services. The report points out that world-scale partnerships are a key issue in terms of Finland’s security as well. Our successful cooperation with the European countries and the United States should be further deepened.
The report recommends a considerable increase in the capacity of the National Satellite Data Centre in Sodankylä. The Satellite Data Centre is the most important element of Finland’s national space infrastructure. Increased capacity means more antennas, a wider frequency band, and enhanced preparedness to process satellite data fast and to distribute data products.
The Arctic is a key region for Finland’s scape operations. Based on the report, Finland should continue to work on securing the commitment of the international community to peaceful and sustainable exploitation of the Arctic region. International partnerships should be encouraged in this region as well.
The report also urges Finland to invest in standardising the utilisation of observations from space by being an active player in the EU cooperation on standardisation.
The project was implemented by the Finnish Meteorological Institute, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Isaware and Reaktor as part of the implementation of the Government plan for analysis, assessment and research for 2019.
Ari-Matti Harri, Research Professor, Leader of the AVAUS project, Finnish Meteorological Institute, tel. +358 50 337 5623, ari-matti.harri(at)fmi.fi
Juha-Matti Liukkonen, Director, Space and New Technologies, Reaktor Innovations, tel. +358 40 528 0142, juha-matti.liukkonen(at)reaktor.com
Christopher Rowley, Consultant, DEMOS Helsinki, tel. +358 50 086 0666, christopher.rowley(at)demoshelsinki.fi
Mika Aaltola, Director, Finnish Institute of International Affairs, tel. +358 40 355 9859, mika.aaltola(at)fiia.fi
Juhani Huovelin, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Isaware, tel. +358 40 021 2850, juhani.huovelin(at)isaware.fi
Antti Näsilä, Research Team Leader, VTT, tel. +358 40 671 6266, antti.nasila(at)vtt.fi