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European Union Agency for the Space Program to be based in Prague

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Prague has won the headquarters of the European Union Agency for the Space Program (EUSPA). It will join the Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA) headquartered in Prague 7. The expansion will swell the staff required from 100 currently, to 700 employees.

The GSA works on the European Navigation system, the EUSPA will have a slew of projects ranging from monitoring countries surrounding the EU to managing the use of the Copernicus Earth Observation Satellite System and preparing the Govsatcom satellite telecommunications program. This is on the back of an EU budget which was increased by 30% to 16 billion Euro, over 410 million Crowns, for the next 7 years of the space program. The EU budget is then followed up by the Czech budget which was recently increased to 1.205 billion Crowns annually from 275 million Crowns in the past. The idea is to hasten the attempt to move the economy from a low-cost production to a higher value added economy, leveraging the space program.

There are about 50 companies in the Czech Republic which are working on projects related to space programs. The EAS BIC, which is a space program business incubator launched three years ago, has another 20 companies which are moving forward with innovations for global space programs. The companies have invested 210 million Crowns into their businesses with the EAS BIC investing another 70 million Crowns.

The Czech Rebublic has a close legacy with space as Valdimir Renek was the first man to fly into space and not be a citizen of the USSR or USA. With the Czech Republic’s entry in to the European Union, Renek is considered to be the first EU citizen to have gone into space as well. The mission was in 1978 and a media joke at the time was: “Why didn’t the Soviets send two Czechoslovaks into space? Because they would have landed in West Germany.”

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