Joint session of Polish commissions on prospects of local space industry (14.03.2012)

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The parliamentary Commission of Innovation and New Technologies and the Commission of Economy held a joint session on the 14th of March 2012. Two main topics were discussed on this meeting: the application of satellite technologies in Poland and the country’s commitment to European Space Agency (ESA).

At the time, when Poland initiated the negotiations process with ESA, discussions on the political level also have begun. These discussions focus on the country’s space industry future. In addition to the work done at the Parliamentary Space Group (Parlamentarny Zespół ds. Przestrzeni Kosmicznej), other commissions, established in the Polish parliament, focus on this topic.

On the 14th of March 2012 a joint meeting of the Commission of Innovation and New Technologies and Commission of Economy took place. Aside the commission members also present were: the director of the Space Research Center, the GMES Poland consultant, the undersecretary of state of the Ministry of Economy and a researcher from the Institute of Geodesy and Cartography.

During the first part of the session the discussion focused on applications of satellite technologies and the current EU spendings on European space programs within the Seventh Framework Program. In addition, the latest student successes (PW-Sat) and scientific satellite developments (BRITE-PL) were noted.

At this part of the debate a question was asked, whether and on which scale the Polish industry is ready to join complex space programs. Some politicians believe that Poland is rather unprepared to use and process space technologies in order to produce own commercially viable products. Also an opinion was given that there was no current information present on how big and how advanced the Polish space industry is right now.

The talks during the second part of the session concentrated on the Polish accession to ESA. The invited experts gave arguments recommending the country’s entry into ESA structures. Among reasons why Poland should join the Agency, there were: the full participation in ESA programmes and the country’s long-year cooperation with European satellite technologies related organizations. A comment from the director of research activities of the Institute of Geodesy and Cartography was made that the Polish industry is being created right now, “but it is not big enough to impress the (European Space) Agency,and demonstrate that the Polish space industry is there and can be helpful to the economy”. The experts also noted, that there is no government long-term strategy for the Polish space industry, which has been sought for years, also by the big firms from the defense industry.

In this part of the discussion a question was asked by the Chairman Mr Jacek Jasiński (Law and Justice Party), on the current and future structure ofthe space industry. The parliamentarian asked, whether the Polish space industry will be composed only of companies with foreign capital, which will focus on transfer of developed technologies outside of the country and benefit from it elsewhere. This might be an important topic from the political perspective in the coming years.

This joint session finished without any immediate results – only the current state on Polish accession to ESA was presented and it was shown how satellite technologies might be used. Also, some important counter-arguments were given, which may become an issue for the developing Polish space industry – for example the input of foreign capital.

The comments from the industry representatives suggest that this meeting did not fulfill its potential. No conclusions were reached, particularly on the topic how Ministries should work in the nearest future. Still, it was noted, that future meetings should take place. Maybe, during next sessions some awaited conclusions will be reached.

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