Czech government mulls national space agency

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WARSAW, Poland — Czech Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Belobradek has announced the country’s government is considering establishing a national space agency to boost the Czech Republic’s domestic space sector. The announcement was made following Belobradek’s recent trade mission to Florida.

In late March, Belobradek led a delegation of Czech business people  to the United States, the Czech government said in a statement. The deputy prime minister, who is responsible for coordinating the Czech Republic’s research and development efforts, paid a visit to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

“I believe that our trade mission has something to offer even Florida’s highly advanced aerospace, aviation and electronic industries, and that we can also develop scientific and research collaboration and innovation projects,” Belobradek said during a stop in Miami. “As the deputy prime minister for science, research and innovation, what I would particularly like to see, of course, is the ability to access developing cutting-edge technologies. Companies whose representatives are here with me certainly have the potential to succeed in this, and thereby open the door for others.”

SpaceNews graphic
SpaceNews graphic

The official said that his government could support this industrial and technological collaboration through institution building, but also through the Czech Republic’s membership in NATO.

“Collaboration is already ongoing between the U.S. and Czech researchers and companies that work for the U.S. defense development. Undoubtedly, it is in our common interest to further develop these relations,” Belobradek said.

This said, the official noted that foreign venture capital is necessary for innovative research and development projects in his country to be developed, as the “Czech Republic, like any small country, feels quite a significant lack of investment in new and risky projects, start-ups and breakthrough technologies.”

New Space Agency

Following the March visit, the deputy prime minister said Prague is considering setting up a national space agency with the aim to coordinate the country’s research and development efforts in the space sector.

“We have been in talks with representatives of business and scientific institutions about the fact that there is a need to create a Czech national space agency,” Belobradek said, according to the Czech Republic’s state-run news agency CTK.

The deputy prime minister’s office is currently in talks with the Czech Ministry of Transport to take over control over the field of space research which is currently overseen by the ministry.

The agency should become a strong partner to NASA and the European Space Agency, according to the deputy prime minister.

The Czech Republic is one of the 22 member states of ESA. The agreement on the country’s accession to the European agency was signed in July 2008. In 2016, Prague will contribute some 15.6 million euros ($17.7 million) to ESA’s budget for activities and programs. The allocated amount will represent 0.4 percent of the total, according to data released by the agency. This indicates that the Czech contribution will be larger than that of some other Eastern European member states, including Hungary and Estonia, which will contribute 900,000 euros and 5 million euros, respectively, but less than Poland and Romania, which will allocate 29.9 million euros and 26.1 euros million this year, respectively.