On June 29-30, the Space Sector Forum was held, the most important conference of the space sector in Poland. This year, the event focused on the ESA science missions and mandatory programmes, the EU space programmes and the National Space Programme. The Forum was organized by the Polish Space Industry Association (SPACE PL) with the participation of the Ministry of Development and Agencja Rozwoju Przemysłu S.A.

The conference was opened by Paweł Wojtkiewicz, president of the SPACE PL, accompanied by prof. Grzegorz Wrochna, president of the Polish Space Agency (POLSA) and Paweł Kolczyński, vice president of Agencja Rozwoju Przemysłu S.A. (Industrial Development Agency). The letter to the participants was sent by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Jarosław Gowin and Deputy Minister of Science Wojciech Murdzek. The Forum was attended by key European space sector decision-makers, including representatives of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Union. It gathered almost 300 participants.

The ESA science missions and mandatory programmes

The ESA science missions and mandatory programmes were the subjects of the first panel of the conference. It was attended by Mateusz Gaczyński – deputy director from the Ministry of Education and Science as well as foreign guests such as prof. Günther Hasinger – Director of the ESA Science Programme and Leopold Summerer, Head of the ESA Advanced Concepts and Studies Office.

Prof. Hasinger presented the key ESA programmes (both optional and mandatory) aimed at the implementation of the ESA science missions, such as the Science Core Technology Program (CTP) and PRODEX. The Polish companies already derive technological and business benefits from the programmes. So far, a lot of domestic entities have signed contracts with ESA for the preparation of mechanisms, structures and technologies for the ATHENA, ARIEL and JUICE space missions. Representatives of the ESA informed, that such future missions as Comet Interceptor, EnVision, ATHENA L2, Lisa and Voyage will be built based on CTP.

Leopold Summerer, head of the ESA Advanced Concepts and Studies Office, presented rules, procedures and plans in the field of identification, preparation and development of technologies to space missions based on mandatory programmes. He informed that currently, such missions as Sentintel-2, Φ-SAT 2, Mars, IOS or the above-mentioned missions Comet Interceptor and LISA are being proceeded.

European programmes – a new chance for the Polish entities

The second panel concerned the activity of the European Union in the space sector. Matthias Petschke – Director of space in DG DEFIS, the European Commission and Rodrigo da Costa – Executive Director of the EU Agency for the Space Program (EUSPA) spoke about the increasingly active space policy of the EU. It has to be underlined, that this year EUSPA was established. It is a successor of the European GNSS Agency (GSA). Its task will be to coordinate all the European space programmes and manage their services. It includes the existing GNSS programmes (EGNOS and Galileo), Copernicus Earth Observation Programme as well as GOVSATCOM programme.

Justyna Redelkiewicz from EUSPA and Dr. Piotr Świerczyński, head of the National Contact Point of the National Center for Research and Development (NCBiR), presented information on contracts that the Polish industry can expect soon. A large part of them will be carried out under the Horizon Europe program that has just been launched (for 2021-27).

The National Space Programme

The third panel was devoted to governmental works on the National Space Program, for which the Polish industry has been waiting for several years. According to the information provided by Piotr Zabadała, deputy director from the Ministry of Development and the president of the Polish Space Agency Prof. Grzegorz Wrochna, the Programme will consist of four main projects: building the national ground segment, building the national satellite Earth observation system, building the national Space Situational Awareness programme as well as and support for the other key space technologies. The official project of the Programme is to be presented by the Ministry of Development soon.

The final of the 6th edition of the competition „Development of human resources in the space sector”

As a part of the Forum, the ceremony of announcing the winners of the 6th edition of the competition „Development of human resources in the space sector” was also held. This year, over 80 young engineers have applied for internships in space sector entities. During the recruitment, 10 people were recruited, who at the beginning of July 2021 are to start 6-month internships in ten Polish space companies and B+R entities.

The media patrons of the Forum were Rzeczpospolita, RMF FM, space24.pl, defence24.pl, kosmonauta.net and MY COMPANY Polska.