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EU-ESA conference in Prague

The summary of the first EU-ESA conference on the manned exploration of the Solar System

On Friday, 23rd October 2009, an international high-level political conference took place in Štiřín castle near Prague, which focused on the place of Europe in future manned explorations of the Solar system. Dozens of delegates from all the member states of the European Union, European Space Agency (ESA) and from many other significant space agencies (including NASA, Roskosmos, JAXA and ISRO) gathered in the castle.

The goal of the conference, to give the space for opinion exchange on the role of Europe in the manned exploration of the Solar system programme with the specialization in spaceflights toward the Moon, asteroids and prospectively towards the Mars, was achieved. The conference has started a dialogue that might end in a high-level political decision about the European role in the space exploration.

The presence of the European countries in these missions will bring sugestions for the development of new, state-of-the-art technologies, which should then cause a boost for the competitiveness of the European industry. A thing, we shall not overlook, is also a long-term motivation for young people to increase their own potential and knowledge leading towards broadening of the economic and social contributions of cosmonautics.

The official program of the 1st EU-ESA International Conference on Human Space Exploration has started at 9:30 with the ceremonial speech of the Deputy Minister of Education, Youth and Sport of the CR, Vlastimil Růžička. Vice-President of the European Commission, Günter Verheugen, continued with his speech which was followed up with the speech of the Italian Deputy Minister of Education, Giuseppe Pizza. After the opening speeches of the mentioned delegates, negotiations followed on the designated topic in two closed sections.

At 14 o’clock, all the delegates gathered in the main hall, where a live communication with the International Space Station (ISS) took place, on which European cosmonaut Frank De Winne was just serving at that time. A former French cosmonaut, Claudie Haigneré, took care of the compering.

In the following afternoon part of the program, at which the Czech Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Miroslava Kopicová, and the Vice-President of the European Commission, Günther Verheugen, presided, the results of the preceding negotiations in the morning were presented. They were presented by the Belgian Minister of Science, Sabine Laruelle, the Slovenian Minister of Education and Science, Gregor Golobič, and by the French Minster of Education, Velérie Pécresse. At the end, a discussion about the results was held, where the results became the official outcome of the conference.

Czech Space Office played a support role for the Czech Minister of Education, Miroslava Kopicová, and also helped with the organization of the whole session.