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Poland has its space agency

CSO has discussed Polish future in space

A year ago, the Polish Sejm adopted almost unanimously a law on the establishment of the Polish Space Agency (POLSA) on purpose of promoting space research and industry in Poland also by supporting the highest possible partcipation in projects of the European Space Agency (ESA).

By this step Poland confirmed its societal interest in the development of Polish space as well as its awareness of the strategic importance of the adoption of the relevant law. At the same time our northern neighbor sent a clear signal that polish are ready to play greater role in European space programmes.

POLSA headquarters was established in the Gdansk Science and Technology Park (Gdanski Park Naukowo - Technologiczny, GPNT), while the other two branches will be located in Warsaw and Rzeszów. As the was president of POLSA was elected prof. Marek Banaszkiewicz, previously acting as director of the Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The President was elected for five year period during which he will deal with administrative matters related to the establishment of the agency, but also with initiation of activities for entities engaged in the Polish space research and industry. Currently, the selection of two vice presidents and recruitment of employees is starting up.

On 19 June, the Forum of Space and Satellite Technologies took place at the Polytechnic University in Rzeszów as part of creating public awareness of the Polish Space Agency. In a city that is famous for its tradition in aviation industry, met Polish and foreign representatives of public and private organizations led by Polish deputies and to talk about the future of POLSA.

In the opening panel discussed Marek Banaszkiewicz, president of the POLSA and Jan Kolář, director of the Czech Space Office (CSO) togehther with Patrycja Žilinská, vice president of the Polish Industrial Development Agency, Zygmunt Rafat Trzaslowski, director of Hertz Systems, who is also vice president of the Council of POLSA and Thomas Weissenberg, representative of the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

All panelists agreed that the establishment of the POLSA is a significant step forward in supporting the development of space research and industry in Poland. However, at the same time, they reminded that it is just the first step on the way to establish rules for the functioning of the agency, which will dispose with budget of several million zlotys, designated for operating expenses and smaller Polish space projects.

Jan Kolář pointed out to the need of orientation to ESA and noted the necessity to create an attractive space programme, supported by both politicians and space industry stakeholders. This programme should also include research and educational activities that represents the greatest investment in the future development of space.

It should be depicted that the act establishing space agency in Poland, no matter how beneficial, leaves some key questions unresolved. One of them is the division of powers between the newly formed agency POLSA and the Ministry of Economy, which is currently a government guarantee for cooperation with ESA that is also responsible for annual contribution to ESA. However, POLSA will not include organizational and research component. Space research and development will be concentrated in the academic and technological organizations led by the aforementioned Centre for Space Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences, while Polsat will primarily play role of an administrative and organizational institution.

The establishment of the Polish Space Agency may be an inspiration for the Czech Republic to enact legislation for space, supported by adequate budget that would enable the implementation of projects at the national level. At the same time the emergence of POLSA opens opportunities for a wider and more effective Czech-Polish cooperation in the field of space research, development of space systems and ground-based applications.