Czech Republic is successful at ESA and the future cooperation is going to be extended
The Czech Republic passed first four years of membership at the European Space Agency. Based on the Analysis provided by Czech Space Office, it becomes clear that this period was successful and the public funding for the Czech involvement in optional programmes should double at next Ministerial Council.
The Czech Republic became the 18th ESA member state on 12th November 2008. At this time the Czech Republic made a commitment to join ten optional ESA programmes, for which in total 22,9 millions Euro was allocated. This budget created a space for involvement of many Czech research institutions from various domains of astronautics, most of which had already superior academic record in the space research. Also the collaboration of Czech research teams with foreign partners was enabled in a broad way, which is also one of major objectives of the CSO, since this office provides information, consultancy and administrative support for Czech workplaces, interested in joining ESA space programmes.
“The major asset of Czech workplaces at the time of joining ESA space programmes was their previous superior research experience. The collaboration between the Czech Republic and ESA started already at 1996 and valuable was also the experience from the ESA Plan for European Cooperating States (PECS) between 2004 and 2008,” according to Jan Kolar, the CSO director and co-author of the analysis. “All these factors contributed to the significant success of the Czech involvement in European space programmes, which exceeded expectations of the European space community and ESA heads,” adds Kolar.
Out of ten optional programmes, to which the Czech republic contributed, most investment was made in the Programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES), General Support Technology Programme (GSTP), PROgramme de Développement d'Expériences scientifiques (PRODEX), European Programme for Life and Physical Sciences in Space (ELIPS) and Earth Observation Envelope Programme (EOEP). The Czech financial commitment within these programmes makes 15,7 millions Euro, which is 69% of the total Czech budget allocated for all optional programmes. The amount of each financial commitment was determined according the possibilities of contribution of particular Czech workplaces in particular programmes. Thanks to this approach it was reached the full return of invested financial means in 4 out of 5 programmes. The low level of contribution to the other optional programmes was driven by the need to only verify the capacities and interests of Czech workplaces. The involvement of several teams from Czech universities and SMEs in programmes ELIPS and ETHE (European Transportation and Human Exploration) became an important historical success.
Results and recommendations provided by the CSO’sanalysis are based on the overall positive evaluation of the existing Czech contribution to ESA space programmes. The main purpose of the proposal is to create suitable frame conditions for even broader involvement of Czech workplaces in European optional space programmes. “We recommend increasing the total Czech financial contribution to 42 million Euro and simultaneously suggest taking part on four new optional programmes, which provide other new possibilities for our research institutions and SMEs. The recommended increase of the contribution reflects current economical conditions in the Czech Republic and complies with the governmental approach of the support of research and scientific activities. This governmental concept creates preconditions for the further growth of Czech financial contribution in the next years in order to triple the contribution to optional space programmes with respect to mandatory ones by 2020,” explains Kolar.
Michal Vaclavik, the author of the analysis, adds: “The main purpose of our proposal lies in creating conditions for maximal possible use of the membership at ESA as an efficient tool to increase the research level in the Czech Republic and related competiveness of Czech workplaces. In order to meet such goals it is important not only to ensure financial means, but also to raise the interest and increase effort of particular workplaces to take part in challenging space programmes. At the same time, it is important to ensure functionality of the professional administrative infrastructure and consultancy services, to be able to support particular workplaces with services tailored to their needs,” concludes Vaclavik.