Poland establishes national space agency

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Polish president Bronisław Komorowski signed a law establishing the Polish Space Agency on October 20th.

The president’s signature, under the act establishing POLSA (POLish Space Agency), is the end of a long political and legal journey which took more than one year.

It all started in May last year, when politicians announced the start of work on the POLSA act. This announcement was made during the IV Innovation Forum conference in Rzeszow. Later, in December, a draft of the act establishing this agency was submitted to Parliament. The first reading in the Sejm, the Polish lower chamber of Parliament, occurred in April 2014, and the second reading followed in July this year. Later, the act was voted for and sent to the Senate, the upper chamber of the Parliament, for review.

The Senate voted on the act on August 7th, after including 41 changes. However, not all of these changes were fully supported by the Polish science and industry community.

On the September 26th, the Senate’s changes were voted on back at the Sejm. One of the proposed and passed changes locates POLSA in Gdansk, instead of Warsaw.

President Bronisław Komorowski’s signature was the last step required to formally introduce the act. The document was signed on October 20th, 2014. The press release from the Chancellery of the President states that “the aim of the law is to create the Polish Space Agency (PAK). PAK is intended to be an executive agency, where the operation principles are described in the Public Finance Law.” In addition PAK’s goal is “to conduct tasks in the field of space research and the use of this research for the technology development intended for the industry, state security and science”. This sentence is important, as it shows that modern space utilization goes far beyond the scope of scientific research and is also important for other purposes – it is a key argument for the creation of POLSA, and further supports space technology development in Poland.

As an interesting side note, the press release uses the acronym PAK (Polish: Polska Agencja Kosmiczna), instead of POLSA. Currently, it is not certain now whether it is a “one time” designation, or if PAK will be used interchangeably with POLSA.

The Polish Space Agency should begin operating from the beginning of 2015. The first months will certainly focus on administrative tasks, such as the selection of the agency’s director. So far there is neither official nor unofficial information available on candidates for the position.

(Thanks to Ian Stotesbury, Tom Boulton and Chris Johnson for help in writing this article)

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