WARSAW — Poland’s deputy prime minister and science minister Jarosław Gowin recently paid an official visit to China during which he discussed joint space plans by Warsaw and Beijing. Gowin said the two countries will jointly build a satellite, equipped with Polish instruments, that is to be launched in 2018.

Under the plan, the new satellite is to be equipped with developed research equipment, and it will study the far side of the moon. The deputy prime minister said that China is an emerging power in the field of space research, and the Polish government aims to intensify its cooperation with the Chinese authorities. The project was first unveiled following Gowin’s meeting with China’s Deputy Prime Minister Chin Liu Yandong in mid-October when Warsaw was offered to cooperate on a joint research project for which China would allocate about $20 million, according to the Polish official.

“I suggested that two sectors would be natural. The first one is space research. The Chinese have had considerable success in this field, and we want to develop our research on space and our space industry,” Gowin said, as quoted in a statement by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

Joint space projects

“In 2018, the Chinese want to launch a Polish-Chinese satellite that will be sent to the moon’s orbit, it will contain very modern measurement instruments. These instruments will be developed by Polish scientists,” the deputy prime minister said.

Warsaw is expected to decide on the amount of its financial contribution to the joint space project in the coming weeks. The program’s scope could be expanded to include the construction of two satellites.

“The October visit to China was an opportunity to launch talks on specific joint scientific and technological projects. One of them was the Discovering the Sky at Longest Wavelength-Pathfinder project, implemented as part of the Chang’E-4 mission,” Marta Wachowicz, the director of the Strategy and International Cooperation Department at the Polish Space Agency (POLSA), told SpaceNews. “The mission aims to place two satellites on the moon’s orbit.”

According to Wachowicz, the program is carried out by the National Space Science Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and its Polish partner, the Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences, will be responsible for developing the satellites’ instruments.

The latest development marks another move by the two countries to intensify their space cooperation. Last June, POLSA signed an agreement with the Chinese National Space Administration. The document states that the two agencies are to collaborate on joint research and monitoring activities, as well as on developing new telecommunications solutions.

What is noteworthy, the Polish government is also hoping to use the experience from its cooperation with China on a lunar exploration mission to foster the setting up of a national space company. The firm, whose establishment Warsaw is currently mulling, is designed to spur the development of smaller companies from the Polish space sector.

Jarosław Adamowski is a Warsaw, Poland-based correspondent for SpaceNews. He has written for Defense News, the Guardian, the Independent, the Jerusalem Post, and the Prague Post.