The ESA director says Europe’s space program risks losing to China and the US.

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“If Europe is not continuing to invest money and to stay at the forefront of innovation we will lose in the big race in space which is now taking place especially in between China and the United States of America,” he said. The Austrian, who took over as director general of the European Space Agency in March, made the remarks during an interview with Efe Friday.

He added that the ESA was essential not only for voyages to the Moon or Mars but also for our day-to-day lives, highlighting the fact that ESA satellites provide a range of functions from meteorology to GPS. Aschbacher said Europe needed to find a way to respond to growing competition in the space industry, particularly with American entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.

But in order to achieve that he said he would organize a summit at the start of next year in coordination with the European Commission and the ESA’s 22 members, which includes 20 EU member states as well as the United Kingdom and Switzerland. One of his ambitions is to oversee the creation of a European Silicon Valley, he told Efe, adding that the US invested $5 billion in the commercial space industry in 2019, while Europe only invested 200 million.

From the ESA offices in central Paris, Aschbacher, 58, said continued investment in Europe’s space industry would improve the economy of the continent and offer “new hope, a new dream.” Without infrastructure in space, life as we know it now would “collapse,” the head of Europe’s answer to NASA said.

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