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by Krzysztof Kanawka and Michal Moroz
Warsaw, Poland (SPX) Jan 07, 2013
2012 was a breakthrough year for Polish astronautical developments. This article contains a summary of the most important achievements of the Polish space sector in 2012.
1. Poland in ESA
As a response, a public action supporting Polish accession to ESA was initiated. Several different professional societies supported this action, presenting the reasons why it was important for Poland to join ESA. Moreover, a "negative scenario" was also presented, which described a possible outcome if Poland did not join the Agency.
The public support action finished with a success on the 12th of June 2012. On that day, the Polish government decided to accept the negotiated terms and join ESA. Over the next few months, several important steps were achieved - the ESA Council accepted the Polish entry, the documents were signed and exchanged, the lower and upper chambers of the Polish parliament ratified the terms and at last - the president of Poland signed the final agreement. All these steps happened before the end of 2012 - Poland became a new member of ESA on the 19th of November, a day before ESA Ministerial Council.
The Polish ESA membership opens new perspectives for the industry and science. Until the end of 2017 Poland will devote part of its funds to the preparatory programme. This should enable the Polish space sector to develop its own products in services, which would become a part of the European space market.
Moreover, Polish companies and scientific institutes from now on can compete on ESA contracts, receive expert support and set new directions of development for the European space sector accordingly to the regional needs. It is an important issue, as before the end of this decade all "New EU" members will become ESA member states and the Agency will define its relations with the EU.
2. PW-Sat on orbit
PW-Sat satellite was built at the Warsaw University of Science and Technology (PW) by the Students' Space Association and Student Space Engineering Group with the support of the national Space Research Center. It is very likely that PW-Sat will not stay the only Polish satellite for long. In 2013 two other Polish satellites should be launched - BRITE-PL Lem and BRITE-PL Heweliusz.
3. BRITE-PL project
4. A Polish-German education satellite
The satellite will be composed of two parts. Once installed on orbit, these two will separate from each other and become independent satellites. Then, the objects should conduct a series of in formation flights and approaches. It is possible that these satellites will perform a re-docking as well. The joined satellite should be similar in size to the BRITE-PL satellite, i.e. 25x25x25 cm. This is an initial value - the final dimensions might be different. The launch date is not known yet.
5. Polish Space Industry Employer Association founded
The work on initiating the Association was done over most of 2012. Finally, the Association was officially founded on the 31st of October.
7. Other developments
Finally, it is important to note here that in parallel to the negotiations with ESA Poland was conducting talks with the astronomical European Southern Observatory (ESO). However, in contrast to ESA, talks with ESO are rather slow and several astronomical societies have already expressed their concerns in this matter.
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