Thursday, 24 April 2014

HN: Czechs to establish their own NASA

24 February 2012

Prague, Feb 23 (CTK) - The Czech government wants to establish a space agency after the model of the U.S. NASA, financial paper Hospodarske noviny (HN) writes yesterday.

The project is to be one of the stimuli to competitiveness supported by the government's national economic council NERV, HN writes.

The Czech Space Agency (NKA) is to administer "incubators" of the companies needing help with the take-off of interesting projects, it adds.

It is to be formed by the end of the year. The Transport Ministry that is now in charge of space programmes says its establishment will not cost anything, HN writes.

On the other hand, businesses and universities will stand a chance of getting some money from the programmes, it adds.

"I can see our potential in the production of applications for satellite navigation in the sphere of control of agricultural work and transport," NERV member Michal Mejstrik is quoted as saying.

"Here, we can seek money from funds and strengthen our competitiveness," he adds about the application of the project in forestry.

"It may be possible to watch illegal logging at any place at any time," Mejstrik said.

This year, the Czech Republic sends 11.5 million euros to the European Space Agency (ESA). However, it is difficult to receive the money back in the form of various incentives as this is hampered by a tangle of Czech programmes, HN writes.

"Since every ministry has its programmes of their own, we must watch them all. This is uselessly difficult for the companies," Cestmir Barta, from the research company BBT Materials Programming, is quoted as saying.

The firm is involved in microgravity research, HN writes.

Czech scientists also work on other projects. The team of Tomas Pajdl, from Czech Technical University in Prague (CVUT), is developing within a NASA project a system that is to produce a robot able of independent movement on the surface of Mars.

Rescuers have taken interest in the technology as it may help them when looking for the injured during elemental disasters and traffic accidents, HN writes.

The companies' involvement in the space business is highly profitable, HN writes, citing the figures from Denmark in which 4.5 euros returns from every euro invested in the ESA.

A study for the European Commission has revealed that in the next two decades roughly 10 billion euros can be saved thanks to this in four areas: the development of renewable sources of energy, health care for the elderly, the provision of pure water and discovery of new petrol and gas deposits.

At present, a number of ministries deal with space research, HN writes.

As a result, getting information and lobbying for Czech business projects is very complicated, it adds.

The businesspeople need help in the paperwork when seeking contracts and grants financed by the ESA from compulsory contributions from its members, including the Czech Republic, HN writes.

It is only needed to transfer the existing staff to the new agency and no new money will be needed for it, Deputy Transport Minister Jiri Zak, who is in charge of space in the Czech civil service, is quoted as saying.

But there is also the question of whether the new Czech agency should primarily define the scientific and research objectives of space programmes rather than the existing ones, HN writes.

Looking at space research only as a means of support to the economy is rather doubtful, it adds.

If you want to treat cancer, you do not have to go to Mars, U.S. astrophysicist Carl Sagan has written.

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