An important place, but the smallest part of the program’s budget also falls on the SST system, which is to monitor objects in space that could get into a collision trajectory with the Earth. These are asteroids, asteroids and also “space junk”, ie the remnants of space rockets and satellites in orbit around the Earth.
At the end of April, MEPs approved a new EU space program with a record budget for 2021-2027.
Two thirds of the EU space budget for Prague
The enlargement is therefore awaiting the European Union Agency for the Global Navigation System Galileo (GSA), based in Prague. As part of the changes, the Prague headquarters will gradually become the new EU Agency for the Space Program.
“I am very happy that it is possible, those three years of negotiations were not easy. The agency is gaining in importance, “said Evžen Tošenovský (ODS), MEP, who is working on expanding the agency. He devoted himself to approving the new EU space program as a shadow rapporteur.
The changes have yet to be approved by the member states, but it is already certain that in the next seven years, almost 15 billion euros, ie over 380 billion crowns, will be available for space activities.
You can find the universe everywhere. In the car, on the phone, at the bank. Technology using tractors in agriculture or trams in Prague.
Rodrigo da Costa, Executive Director of the GSA
The Prague agency is already preparing for the changes, the largest share of money, about two thirds, falls on programs managed from Prague. In addition, the demand for technologies using the European navigation system Galileo or the European satellite imagery program Copernicus is growing rapidly, as described by Rodrigo da Costa, Executive Director of the GSA:
“Society and security are increasingly dependent on space technology. You can find the universe everywhere. In your car or phone and in your bank. Technology using tractors in agriculture or trams in Prague. The universe also brings a job opportunity. The European Union’s space industry operates in a quarter of a million jobs, and that number could almost double by 2025. “
Once formally confirmed by the Member States, the changes will enter into force retroactively from 1 January this year. Prague will thus become the capital of the European Union’s space program.
Can we afford not to have a space program?
But does it even make sense to spend money on space research at a time when not only Europe is entering a period of economic crisis after the covid pandemic?
MEP Mikuláš Peksa (Pirates) thinks the question is not whether to spend money on space research, but whether we cannot afford not to invest in space technology at all:
“This is a very important, modern and promising sector that has a positive impact on the functioning of the whole economy. The investments we make here will pay off many times over in increasing companies’ incomes and salaries for citizens. In the end, the taxes we collect from it will also increase, because those things are taxed. In any case, these investments will pay for themselves, and I think Europe should invest in them. If we stop now – after the whole economy has stopped for covid – and stop investing, it will be even worse than it is. “
Space technology is an important, modern and promising sector that has a positive impact on the functioning of the whole economy.
According to Peksa, Europe should now also strive to have a modern space carrier, a rocket, and not be dependent on other parties. Having the ability to transport material into orbit is a kind of strategic value that each of the great powers should hold.
Every European rocket has components from the Czech Republic
Ondřej Šváb from the Ministry of Transport is a professional representative of the Czech Republic in the working group for space of the Council of the European Union. He names several satellite systems to which Czech companies supply various components. The Czechia also participates in data processing and the development of applications and services provided by satellite systems such as Meteostat (weather forecasting) or Galileo (precise navigation and positioning).
“Czech companies work on the hardware of these satellites, on various coolers, optics, microelectronics or on the software that you control the satellites. We are currently participating in more than thirty missions of the European Space Agency (ESA), but it is an independent European organization, independent of the European Union. This is where the preparation of the satellite infrastructure, which the Union then uses, is taking place, “but Šváb adds:
“We also have companies that produce parts of Ariane 5 launchers or the upcoming Ariane 6, for example in Klatovy or Brno. It can be said that every European rocket that flies into space will have Czech components on it. “
The second Czech cosmonaut?
Although manned spaceflight is not a priority of the EU’s space program, Europe is looking for new astronauts. The European Space Agency (ESA) is currently collecting applications from space enthusiasts. The application deadline is May 28, 2021.
Michal Václavík from the Czech Space Offices knows about forty people of various serious interest in the space mission, who turned to him with a question or request for help.
Nevertheless, ESA is not only looking for experienced pilots and soldiers, but also ordinary people with lower limb injuries. “In terms of physical proportions, there is a limit of 150 to 190 centimeters of height figures. The upper age limit has been moved to 50 years. This addresses a much wider range of candidates compared to previous selections of astronauts, “concludes Václavík.
ESA will announce the results of the tender in the autumn of next year. However, money also plays a role in the selection of candidates from the 27 countries of the European Union. It is also selected based on how much the state contributes to the agency’s budget.
“Now, as the Czechia, we contribute little, but not much. That’s enough for some of the basic research we’re doing, but if we wanted to have our own astronaut, we had to dig deeper into our pockets. It’s not just about the astronaut doing research in space, but it’s also a huge advertisement and prestige for the state. It also attracts young people to study technology and space technology. In my opinion, the investment will always pay off, “concludes Michal Václavík from the Czech Space Offices.
Listen to the whole Europe Plus, prepared by Pavel Novák.