Organisation of Space Activities
The Interkosmos 1, launched on 14 October 1969, was the first satellite carrying instruments developed in the former Czechoslovakia. Several dozens of Czech instruments and systems have flown on Intercosmos and Prgnoz satellites for near Earth and Sun research, and on the planetary missions Mars and Fobos. In 1978, the first Czech cosmonaut, Vladimír Remek became the third nationality in space as spent 6 days on board of the Salyut 6 orbital station. The first Czech satellite, Magion1, reached its orbit in October 1978. Four more Magion satellites for magnetospheric studies were launched between 1989 and 1996. Four Czech furnaces CSK ware subsequently installed and used by crews on Salyut and Mir stations. The Automated Stabilised Platform (ASP) was the most complex space equipment made in Czechoslovakia. It was used on Soviet Vega space probes and also installed on the Mir orbital station.
The Czech Republic joined ESA’s PRODEX (section XX) from June 2000 till 2004 and has entered in PECS (section XXX) in Nov 2004. The formal request to accede to ESA Convention has been submitted to ESA in January 2007 followed by the start of accessing process in June 2007. The accessing agreement has been signed in July 2008 while an official ESA member state the Czech Republic is expected to become before the end of 2008.
The Czech space activities are implemented and managed by the Czech Space Office (CSO), a private non-profit organisation, also responsible for relations with ESA (PECS in particular), the space industry and foreign space institutions.
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (Ministerstvo školství, mládeže a tělovýchovy – MŠMT) is responsible in the government for the space. It provides for the major part of the Czech space funding, through the ESA PECS Programme and pursuing other international cooperation ties. It also supervises the development of space activities and their applications in the Czech Republic, and contributes to formulating the European Space Policy. The Czech part of the joint ESA-CR Task Force group constitutes the MSMT’s advisory body for space.
Moreover, the Ministry of Transport (Ministerstvo dopravy – MD) is responsible for the implementation of the Galileo programme in the Czech Republic. The Ministry of Environment (Ministerstvo životního prostředí - MŽP) is involved in the GMES initiative and through the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute represents the country in EUMETSAT. Space research projects are also eligible for financing by the Czech Grant Agency and by others R&D grant agencies, namely of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (Ministerstvo průmyslu a obchodu – MPO), the Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS) and universities.
Space activities in the Czech Republic target an effective European cooperation in space. ESA membership is a next milestone, together with active contributions to the European Space Programme. The aim of the Czech space activities is to use high-technology space projects as a mean to secure competitiveness of the national industry and contributing to improve quality of life of its citizens.
Space activities of the Czech Republic include:
- Contributions to the ESA activities through the Plan for European Cooperating States (PECS)
- R&D activities in several sectors, e.g. transport, industry and environment
- Space-related research at Universities and Institutes of the Czech Academy of Sciences.
Czech expenditures for space activities in 2008 amounted to about € 7,44 million, including contribution to EUMETSAT. They represent some 0,017% of the national budget expenditures and about 0,8% of all public spending on research and technology.
Czech funding of space contribution to ESA programmes has doubled during last two years, while the even larger increase of money spent from other public resources in the same period of time is partially due to better inventory of space related projects. The outlook for the next period has still a growing trend as the country is entering the ESA membership.
Space Strategy and major Programmes
The Space Programme of the Czech Republic has no firm form yet and its structure is in preparatory stage. Its predefined features arise from demands to steer space activities towards economic or social benefits, and to promote excellence in science and technology. An important objective of the programme is a sustainable support to companies running space projects, offering incentives for building-up and maintaining space-related knowledge.
Consequently, main programmatic lines have been emerging from activities accomplished in the past years or running today:
- Telecommunications: broad-band television and internet services
- Navigation: location services, dedicated hardware development
- Earth observation: meteorology, environmental monitoring, disaster prevention and management, resource management, humanitarian aid
- Space exploration: research of the nature of Sun, Earth and other planets, and the universe
- Space technology including ground segment.: satellite platform elements, scientific payloads, software developments
The five specified core fields of space activities are carried out in both the European programmes (ESA and EUMETSAT) and the national projects. Associated public spending covers also management and administration costs. An overview of the funds for 2008 year is shown in the table aside.
At the moment, Institutional international co-operation in space is mainly focused on the collaboration with ESA. Institutional contacts also exist, however, with space organisations in Europe, Russia, Latin America, Japan and the USA.
Space Technology R&D
Space technology projects are currently in progress in the following areas:
- Receiver and applications for GALILEO
- Semiconductor S-band transmitter
- X ray optics
- Sandwich metal materials for space
- Fuel cell hydrogen technology
- TEASER - advanced micro-accelerometer for space environment