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Thursday, 30 October 2014

Czech Republic prepares own space program

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The Czech Republic will have its own space program, according to the National Space Plan for 2014-2019 that the government approved at the beginning of the week, the daily Hospodárske noviny (HN) writes today.
The plan recommends that the National Space Agency, "a considerably smaller variant of NASA," be established to integrate the currently fragmented competences in this field, HN says.
So far the Czech Republic has participated in the European Space Agency (ESA) programs, the second most significant player in space exploration after NASA, which they joined in 2008. Czechs annually give some 14 million euros to the ESA.
The national space exploration program should have an annual budget of three to five million euros and last for five years at least.
It should complement the research carried out within the ESA. Consequently, the National Space Agency could fund the projects that cannot be paid by the ESA, HN says.
Jan Kolář, head of the Czech Space Office NGO, welcomes the idea of the national space program.
"However, it should focus on the preparation of research and development activities in technical sciences," such as the development of materials and various types of detectors and the aerodynamics area, Kolář said.
HN writes that one of the rare successes that Czech science and industry has recently scored in this filed is a micro-accelerometer used in the SWARM satellites that were sent into space last November. The device, developed by 15 Czech firms, measures slight and slow accelerations that influence the satellite's movement, which removes possible distortions in the magnetic field measurements, HN notes.
However, the successful Czech micro-accelerometer was rather an exceptional case, Kolář told HN.
He said Czech participation in the ESA is limited by finances on the one hand, and by skills on the other hand. "In addition, our participation in each program is confronted with other European countries," he added.
Under the approved national space plan, the Czech Republic's contribution to the ESA's optional programs must be doubled at least, HN writes.
The transitory six-year period, in which the Czech Republic as a new ESA member could use a special incentive program, ends this year. Almost a half of the Czech obligatory payments to the agency went to it.
After the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania entered the ESA, while Estonia and Hungary plan to do so, and now they can use the advantages of newcomers, HN adds.
Source : prague post