How can small countries find their role in space activities

This document is result of panel discussion on the topic “Small Countries in Space Era”, motivated by the rapidly evolving development in Space exploration, harnessing the benefits from it for the wellbeing of humanity and future presence of humans there. Small countries should also find their role in this endeavor but in competition with large conglomerates the question is HOW?

Preamble

A stable and prosperous society needs to be creative in science and technology, and to be globally competitive. Two factors that determine success are creatively educated members of the community and leadership in new ideas. For a small country, with a reasonably educated population, it is therefore of utmost importance to determine trends in the field of science and technology and to focus their development efforts in this direction. Research and development in Space activities offers opportunities to small countries to participate as an active member. This primarily requires defining strategic direction of development in the field of aerospace high technology industries, basic science and development as well as activities in the field of space medicine, space law and space tourism.

Recommendations

The essential trait of Space programs is interdisciplinary and cutting across the responsibilities of several ministries. Therefore, the basic step towards commencing a Space program is setting up a Space Agency by the funding ministries of Science, Transport, Economy (where technology is incorporated) and Defence. The National Space Agency should ideally cover all sectors of Space program, with experts in their fields. The follow up of establishing Space Agency is to set up a National Space Strategy that has two principal segments:
1. National Space Program (Research, Technology and Applications)
2. International contacts: ESA, EU, bilateral cooperation
Both these segments form the basis for accession to the membership of European Space Agency. The Space Strategy should encompass the long term and short-term development objectives and define the areas of priority.

The path to becoming a full member of ESA is to first sign a Framework Programme and then to become a co-operating state and thereby join the PECS (Plan for European Cooperating States) programme. The PECS Charter, which lasts for five years, shall enable the country to develop its space industry with ESA’s support. The next step is Associate Membership of ESA and lastly, Full Membership of ESA. The National Space Agency represents the country in the ESA council and programme boards. It also advises the government on levels of commitment in the optional programmes of ESA in line with the space strategy. To support the creation of space start-up companies it is advisable to set up an ESA Business Incubation Centre (ESA-BIC).

In parallel, there should be a national space programme to prepare industry and academia for the competitive environment of ESA and EC contracts and to enable fruitful bi-lateral collaborations. As a member of the European Union, the country also participates in the down-stream space programme of the EU, which is implemented by the European Commission. Examples are Satellite Navigation (EGNOS and Galileo), Earth Observation (Copernicus), Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and the GOVSATCOM Programme. To utilize the Public Regulated Service of Galileo Ministries of Interior and Defence should set up a Competent PRS Authority (CPA).

Institute Ruđer Bošković, Zagreb, Croatia, October 13, 2019

Prof. Dr. Slobodan Danko Bosanac
President of the Adriatic Aerospace Association

The signatories to the document are:
Petr Bares, President, Czech Space Alliance
Prof. Dr. Sc. Slobodan Danko Bosanac, President, Adriatic Aerospace Association
Mag. Dr. Andreas Geisler, Appointed Head of the FFG Aeronautics and Space Agency.
Prof. Dr. Tomaž Rodič, Director, Slovenian Centre for Space Sciences and Technologies
Prof. Dr. Carsten Scharlemann, Head of Deparment, Aerospace Engineering, University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt
Prof. Heinz Stoewer, Founder of Space Associates GmbH
Dr. Sc. Hrvoje Zorc, Adriatic Aerospace Association