The ESA workshop on the Space Safety Program took place in Warsaw on September 29. The event was organized by the Polish Space Agency (POLSA). The representatives of entities from the Polish space industry participating in the workshop had an opportunity to find out about the program and specific projects.  

Ensuring the safety and security of outer space is a serious challenge for humanity. Near-Earth Objects (NEO) and space debris that approach the Earth’s orbit are considered as potentially hazardous objects. In case of their collision with Earth or other objects in orbit, they may cause a catastrophe. Therefore, the ESA takes action to identify and avert threats.

Poland will invest almost EUR 10 mln

Space Safety Programme (S2P) is the ESA optional program. The Polish contribution amounts to EUR 9,9 mln. According to the ESA rules, this amount is to be distributed among the Polish entities which, in the future, will participate in the implementation of particular projects.

S2P is a continuation of the Space Situational Awareness Programme (SSA). In Poland,  the program is implemented by the POLSA. It consists of three pillars: a) space weather monitoring, b) planetary defense, c) NEOs and space debris monitoring and control.

ESA prepares new missions

In comparison to SSA, S2P has been expanded by fourth space missions such as ADRIOS, LAGRANGE, HERA and CREAM.

The ADRIOS mission will be devoted to removing the ESA space debris from orbit. It should result in a more clean outer space. It will also enable the European industry to expand its capability of in-orbit servicing. Poland wants to acquire capability in space debris removal. The country will participate in the mission of removing one of the orbital objects.

The LAGRANGE mission is aimed at space weather monitoring. It envisions launching two spacecraft at Lagrangian points L1 and L5. Monitoring would allow scientists to research sun flares and improve forecasts of solar wind persistence.

The HERA mission has the objective to develop planetary defense technologies. It is associated with NASA plans to launch to orbit the first spaceship called DART which would crash into asteroid Didymoon in order to study how the asteroid could be deflected if it were on a collision course with Earth. The ESA role will be to characterize the asteroids system after the hitting and obtain data of incalculable value that will make it possible to develop strategies to handle an eventual impact on Earth. HERA will be the first interplanetary mission that visits a binary asteroid system, Didymos. This system is composed of the main asteroid (Didymain) and another asteroid that orbits around it (Didymoon).

The second important objective of the HERA is scientific development and the research of the origins of the Solar System. Asteroids, small moons and comets are not only dangerous objects wandering the Solar System but also possibly the most interesting objects that can be visited.

The CREAM mission will involve a variety of activities aimed at automatic collisions avoiding. The technology of the mission is planned to be demonstrated by 2023.

Poland, apart from participation in the ESA projects, takes part in the EU Space Surveillance and Tracking Programme (EUSST). The program is aimed at protecting private and public satellites. The POLSA has 14 telescopes and a laser station that gather information on localization and characteristics of the space objects.

The ESA encourages the Polish entities to involve in the projects and participate in tenders that are about to be opened. Within the workshop, the ESA officers and experts presented the S2P core activities and answered the questions.  B2B meetings between the Polish entities and the ESA representatives were an important point of the event.