Demand on human community to be stable and rich society is to be creative in science and technology, and in that to be a leader and competitive globally. Two factors that determine success are creatively educated members of the community and leadership in new ideas. For Croatia, as a small country, with a reasonably educated population, is therefore of utmost importance to determine trends in the field of science and technology that are still in the conceptual stage, and determine their development efforts in this direction. Commercialization of the Space is at the global level at an early stage of development and Croatia has a chance to join the project and participate as an active participant. This primarily requires defining strategic direction of development in the field of aerospace and high technology industries, basic science and development as well as activities in the field of space medicine, space law and space tourism.
Space: economy, science and education
Activities associated with the use of outer space for humankind are focused around a central vision for the near and long term future: launch small and medium-sized satellites for commercial and scientific purposes, transportation of passengers and goods in suborbital space, building global space station, travel into deep space.
The current development and use of outer space activities are to a greatest extent the pursuit of government or multinational agencies ESA, NASA, Roscosmos, DLR, CNES, ISRO, whose priorities are focused on non-commercial projects or those of national interest (e.g. the defence and data collection). The last decade is the beginning of the development of private companies in the space sector that are either focused on the rocket system launch of small and medium sized satellites or hybrid spacecraft development (combination of jet-rocket propulsion). Companies that are active in the development of these spacecrafts are Virgin Galactic, Reaction Engines, Scaled, Space Adventures, Sierra Nevada Corporation, Swiss Space Systems (uncertain future), EADS Astrium (incorporated into the Airbus Space and Defence). Their common goal is to make space available on a commercial basis, however in the present phase to enter into the market of satellite launching and in later stage to provide access to space to people on the basis of “space for all.” Market research and prospects of development of space activities is summarized in several extensive documents: Evaluation of the European Market Potential for Commercial Spaceflight , TAURI group,London Economics consulting firm and Euroconsult.
Assessment of sectors related to the commercialization of the Space described in these documents envisages a large increase in revenues from these activities and in parallel with the development in science and technology. Example forecasts in the document Euroconsult is shown in the figure, and although the sectors of education and tourism are omitted in other documents it is foreseen their rapid growth.
Production and use of satellites is a rapidly growing sector in the development of the space program, despite the drawback that launching is as yet quite expensive. It is expected that, because of the future development of hybrid spacecrafts, launching satellites would be much cheaper and will also accelerate the growth of this sector. Current estimate to Euroconsult for growth sectors satellites is given in figure. Some of the companies that are active in the satellite sector, be it on the production or the use of satellites for commercial purposes are Airbus defense and space, Sky Perfect Jsat Corp., Iridium Communications Inc, SES – Société Européenne des Satelites, Surrey Satelite Technology Ltd and else.
The great influence of the space sector is on the development of national economy, and is expected to increase significantly in the future. London Economics report provides a detailed analysis of this impact, both on the domestic economy and globally. The importance of the space sector to the UK economy is shown in the figure, which is third in total revenues.
At the world level, the role of space research and development is also of great importance. The OECD report for 2014 year, which is cited in a report by London Economics, show the budget allocations for the space to civil sector in relation to the total budget for research and development in several countries. The interest of the states in development of economy of space for them is vital, especially for the development of high technology and research.
Organization of aviation-space program in Croatia
Air and Space sector brings together a wide range of diverse activities and without a single coordination it is difficult to run it. In Croatia, as well as in other small and medium-developed countries, there are two opposing visions of development. One is to encourage the development of the companies without any special coordination that subcontracts supplied components for large projects in aeronautical-space sector, the central development being in other countries or by space agencies. The advantage of this approach is that the state does not have the responsibility of organizing this complex sector, while the disadvantage that they are highly specialized companies that are sensitive to market competition. Another vision is organizing the sector in which the scientific and technological activities are gathered around a common program. The advantage is that such a program is far better to ensure the stability of the economy but without the participation of the state and the tight coordination of all components of the sector it is difficult to run.
With the intention of assembling science and technology around aviation-space project in Croatia the Adriatic Aero-Space Association (A3) is established, and the basis of that decision is afore analysis of global trends and the direction in which science and technology is in future should develop. Areas of A3 activity are:
Research and development
A3 works in the research and development of technologies, products and services in the aero-space sector, ensuring economic and scientific benefit.
A3 is a focal point for the interconnection of economic entities in the domestic and international markets for the industry in the aero-space sector (e.g. product development with partners from the EU, and independent participation or together with partners from the EU in international programs with the aim of production).
A3 is a mediator between scientific research institutions and economic entities oriented to research new technologies for aero-space sector with the aim of raising the profile of the domestic aviation space activities both on the domestic and international level.
A3 is a focal point for the international aero-space agencies (e.g., ESA, NASA, DLR, CNES …) creating the environment where all stakeholders, i.e. industry, academy and public sector, are involved thus enabling the growth in this rapidly changing sector.
Education and counselling
A3 provides business and technology consulting for operators and government bodies, expert body to express their opinion on matters of public interest in the field of space technology and aeronautics and the link with supporting scientific and technical disciplines, education and popularization programs in aero-space sector.
A3 inspires and supports education and training of the rising generation of qualified aero-space experts and scientists.
Expected contribution in the Republic of Croatia
Aerospace sector in the economy has a very wide range of activities: science, high technology, innovation, tourism, medicine and law, but is also the sector with the highest added value. Return on investment has multiple returns not only financially but also in education, science and ultimately positioning the community on the international stage. For this reason many countries (e.g. Germany ) ) focus their future strategic commitment in the space sector, and thus closely associated aviation sector. With a good focus and coordination the same contribution of this sector is to be expected in the Republic of Croatia and to be at a comparable level. The establishment of A3 is the first step in defining the development strategy of the Croatian sector in space and aviation, which plays a similar role as for example the German Space Agency (DLR), or similar in Israel and Turkey. Important role of A3 is to be a “point of contact” for foreign investors, partnerships with sister agencies, all for the purpose of connecting with the active participants in the Republic of Croatia to participate in the development and the work in this sector.
Space and with it closely associated aeronautical research and development activities are among the fastest growing globally, and they are not expected to be slowing down in the near future. The Republic of Croatia has a chance to join the active development in these sectors when they are still in a relatively early stage and be an active participant, and this is an opportunity not to be missed. The basis for this are education-oriented creativity and openness to new ideas, strict selection of quality human resources, encourage basic and applied research and innovation and to encourage the development and application of high technology in the economy.
*Unless stated otherwise figures are from SATELLITE VALUE CHAIN: THE SNAPSHOT from 2016 Edition of Euroconsult Executive Report