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8. 7. 2008 10:18

July 8, 2008: Czech Republic To Join Development of Services Based on Satellite Technologies as a Result of Its Membership of the ESA

The Czech Republic has taken another step towards its membership of the European Space Agency (ESA). Premier Mirek Topolánek and ESA Director Jean-Jacques Dordain today signed an agreement under which this country will join the group of leading countries in space research, satellite navigation and communications as of January 1, 2009. The agreement will be reviewed by both chambers of the Parliament.  According to Premier Mirek Topolánek, current space research is not only a matter of space flights. “Space research, satellite navigation and communications are today affecting our everyday life. It is precisely this link between space technologies and our ordinary life that is moving space research to one of the leading places among the technical disciplines vital for the national economy,“ says the Prime Minister.

Membership of the European Space Agency and ratification of the follow-up security treaties is of great importance for our country. In actual fact, it can help in further negotiations on the Czech Republic’s candidacy to host the seat of the European office for the monitoring of the global satellite navigation systems (GSA), which looks after the global navigation system Galileo*. Location of the project’s headquarters in Prague would give the Czech Republic possibilities to develop research projects and receive foreign investments, thus crowning the long-term efforts and work of the Czech Government and the Czech Transportation Ministry.

ESA´s chief mission is primarily to coordinate the European space research strategy and policy. It also maintains and promotes European transportation facilities for access to the outer space, expanding scientific knowledge about our planet and the solar system. ESA also utilizes the technical skills and findings thus acquired to satisfy the ever more demanding requirements of the society and market.

Since 2005, the overall volume of the Czech scientific and industrial activities within the ESA programmes has been greatly expanded. As many as 27 projects, with an aggregate budget of 8,021,427 €, are being resolved at present. These include particularly challenging projects that are aimed at developing and building onboard instrumentation for satellites and contributions to the ground-based space research infrastructure, e.g. computer programmes for the satellite flight control centre.**

Background information:

*Galileo is a global satellite navigation system that will be fully developed and operated by Europe. It will be based on the same principle as the current US GPS system and the Russian GLONASS. Galileo is a joint initiative of the European Commission and the European Space Agency. Its aim is to create a European counterweight to the US Global Positioning System (GPS), used for orientation by the military as well as civilian pilots, motorists and hikers alike.

** Under the Agreement, the Czech Republic will cover the so-called entrance fee amounting to 2.9 million € under the economic conditions prevailing in the year of accession. By covering that fee the Czech Republic will become co-owner of the tangible property of the European Space Agency, including buildings, land, laboratories, research facilities and equipment, and its intangible assets in the shape of intellectual property. The annual membership fee calculated according to ESA´s financial rules for the Czech Republic is estimated at 5.3 million €.

The invested financial means are returned to the participating member states through industrial and research contracts. These are concluded on the basis of the outcome of public tenders announced for companies and research institutes from the participating countries. In this respect, ESA applies the rule of return on investments, which guarantees - for a five-year period - the return-on-investment rate of 84 % from the funds invested into the obligatory programmes and as much as 94 % from the individual optional programmes.

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