2013 in the Polish space sector

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This year is going to be a very interesting one for the Polish space sector. This article presents our forecast for the year 2013.

Without doubt the Polish space sector is expected to grow. Only in 2013 there will be many interesting events and opportunities for its dynamic development. Kosmonauta.net has selected the most important ones in order to in order to access the future of this sector in Poland.

2013 in Polish astronautics - BRITE-PL Lem satellite, small rocket launch and first year in ESA / Credits - Rok 2013 w Polsce - satelita BRITE-PL Lem, test rakiety Polskiego Towarzystwa Rakietowego i pierwszy rok w Europejskiej Agencji Kosmicznej / Credits - CBK PAN, PTR, wikimedia
2013 in Polish astronautics – the BRITE-PL Lem satellite, a small rocket launch and the first year in ESA / Credits – Rok 2013 w Polsce – satelita BRITE-PL Lem, test rakiety Polskiego Towarzystwa Rakietowego i pierwszy rok w Europejskiej Agencji Kosmicznej / Credits – CBK PAN, PTR, wikimedia

1. First year in the European Space Agency {jathumbnail off}
In November 2012, after long negotiations, Poland has finally joined the European Space Agency (ESA). Definitely, it is a great chance for Polish space industry and scientific institutes. However, it also is a real challenge, since membership in the Agency has many requirements. Nevertheless, we can expect that thanks to ESA funding, some significant projects will be started.

Who will benefit more from the membership in ESA – commercial entities or research institutions? Now it is difficult to give an direct answer, as it depends on many factors, such as: the governmental space policy, organizational issues, the scope of transition period projects, interest of foreign companies in the Polish market and other. In our opinion, the development of the private sector is essential and should be a priority, because in the result there will be a profitable, domestic space sector that could be an important part of the European one.

Worth of emphasizing is that up to 2017 Poland will be in a transition period in ESA. Until this date much effort is going to be taken in order to develop commercial Polish space technologies and their ground applications as well. A proper organization of those efforts is necessary in order to reflect Polish ambitions and industry limitations, as only then a suitable range of national space products and solutions will be available on the market.

Kosmonauta.net editors recommend that Poland should take some previous experiences of other member countries into the account. We suggest to learn from ups and downs of the Danish space sector, as this country has a similar contribution to ESA and observe recent developments initiated by the British government.
 
Apart from this, membership in ESA should bring many profits for Polish universities and students who now can increase their international engagement in various space projects, as they may obtain funds directly from the Agency. Before November 2012, Poland had to cover the whole costs of their students participation, which sometimes led to some disagreements with the government, e.g. in the ESMO project back in 2010.

Currently, the application process is open to two student educational projects: “Spin your Thesis” and “Drop your thesis”. In addition, two Polish CanSat projects have already started. Poland is represented by the two secondary school teams: Aurora and KrakSat.

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2. BRITE-PL – Lem (and Heweliusz?) on orbit
At least one of the two Polish satellites from the BRITE-PL project – Lem, will be launched into orbit this year. The start of Lem (on the board of the “Dnepr” rocket) was postponed to early 2013 due to the reasons independent of the Polish satellite. Right now, the launch date is still not determined, however this event will be a very interesting one, as over 20 different satellites will be delivered to orbit onboard one rocket.

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Integration of BRITE-PL Lem sattelite (video from November 2011) / Credits –

The launch of BRITE-PL Lem will be a crucial step for the Polish science, especially for astronomy, which will gain an important device to conduct research and gather data of very high quality. 

3. Other educational projects
At the ILA Berlin Air Show 2012 a joint Polish-German small educational satellite(s) project was announced. So far no details were provided except universities, which will take part in this project and general mission goal, which is formation flying. Probably during 2013 some more details will be revealed. In addition, recently Polish teams have gained large experience on the University Rover Challenge competition. In the previous year, Poland was represented by several teams. It is expected that Polish teams will win some awards in this event.

4. Balloon and rocket missions
Over recent years an increasing activity of various Polish amateur and semi-professional groups has been noted. These groups perform their own stratospheric balloon and rocket projects. Similar projects should take place in 2013, probably with great results. Worth of mentioning are activities of the Copernicus Project Foundation, who regularly launch stratospheric balloons and tests of the Polish Rocket Association whose rockets regularly surpass the sound barrier and reach the attitudes of over 4 km. 

Picture taken at approx. 30 km above sea level. This region of stratosphere is more and more often visited by Polish amateur and semi-professional groups /  Credits - zespół Hevelius, Kosmonauta.net,  Polskie Forum Astronautyczne
Picture taken at approx. 30 km above sea level. This region of stratosphere is more and more often visited by Polish amateur and semi-professional groups /  Credits – Hevelius team, Kosmonauta.net,  Polish Astronautical Forum

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