New EU space agency to open in Prague in 2021

The EU Agency for the Space Program (EUSPA) will open in Prague in 2021, expanding the current GNSS Agency

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 20.12.2019 07:00:09 (updated on 20.12.2019) Reading time: 2 minutes

The new EU Agency for the Space Program (EUSPA) will be based in the Czech Republic starting in January 2021.

The agency will be
created by expanding the GNSS Agency (GSA), which has been managing
the EU’s Galileo satellite system in Prague for seven years. The
agency staff will increase from the current 100 to around 700 people.

In addition to the
development of Galileo operations, the Czech Republic will manage the
use of the Copernicus Earth observation satellite system, prepare the
Governmental Satellite Communications (Govsatcom) program, and
concentrate EU capacities to monitor the Earth’s near surroundings.

This year, the EU
has proposed to increase its space program budget by 30 percent to
€16 billion in the next seven-year budget period.

The expansion fits in with the Czech Ministry of Transport’s National Space Plan and the objectives that the Czech Republic has in space activities.

“Space activities such as satellite systems, launchers, space technology and applications are of key importance to many industries today — transport, logistics, agriculture, energy and more. If we do not want to ‘miss the train’ and want to be in touch with European and global trends, we, as the Czech Republic, have to focus on this sector to a much wider extent, just like other developed European countries,” the ministry said in a press release.

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In 2020, the Czech
Republic will invest 1.205 billion CZK a year in space activities,
which is 275 million CZK more than before. “We support space
activities with high added value and economic, strategic, security
and scientific potential,” the ministry said, adding that the goal
is to become a high-tech economy.

The Czech Republic’s
goal in the coming years is to further strengthen the Czech space
industry, focusing on promising technologies and applications such as
flexible solar panels for satellites, rocket parts, advanced
materials, and use of satellite data in transport and agriculture.

gsa prague
GSA headquarters in Prague. via GSA

The country wants to
be able to prepare and manufacture more complex satellite systems or
small satellites in the Czech Republic, and engage more in
international cooperation and supply chains.

GSA Executive Director Carlo des Dorides in a panel discussion in November commented on the economic impact of European space programs.

“According to our recent GNSS Market Report, the global downstream market revenue from both GNSS devices and services will grow from €150 billion in 2019 to €325 billion in 2029. These figures show us that space already plays a major role in the EU economy, creating opportunities for business and jobs for European citizens,” des Dorides said.

Around 50 companies
participate in the space program in the Czech Republic. Space
production includes rolling solar panels for satellites, an adapter
for launching dozens of small satellites from the Vega launcher,
optical systems, a new air traffic control system, satellite control
software, and aluminum and titanium launcher parts for the Ariane 6
rocket.

The ESA Business
Incubator Center (BIC) in Prague has helped over 20 other companies
that typically use space technologies on Earth to develop in the
Czech Republic.

According to the
Ministry of Transport, the return on space investment in the economy
is more than eight-fold.

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