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Polish Space Sector on the Rise: Key Strategic Documents Under Review

INDUSTRIESPolish Space Sector on the Rise: Key Strategic Documents Under Review

The Polish space sector currently comprises about 400 companies and institutions, with over half collaborating daily with the European Space Agency (ESA). Due to increased membership contributions and agreements signed with ESA last year, this collaboration will intensify in the coming years, providing a strong impetus for the development of Polish companies and boosting innovation in the national economy. Work is currently underway to revise strategic documents critical for the sector, which will aid in shaping the industry and securing funding for new projects.

“We have increased our contribution to the European Space Agency, which stimulates both the implementation of the Polish Space Strategy and the involvement of Polish enterprises in the broadly understood space sector. The number of these entities is growing, and their projects are becoming increasingly expansive,” says Waldemar Sługocki, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Development and Technology, to Newseria Biznes.

Poland became a member of the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2012, significantly accelerating the development of its domestic space sector. Polish entities have participated in European space programs, and Polish scientists have gained new partners, financial support, and access to ESA infrastructure. Polish engineers and scientists have contributed to European missions such as Cassini-Huygens, Rosetta, and Solar Orbiter. Upcoming missions include Proba-3, Prospect, Exo Mars, Comet Interceptor, and Athena. Equipment provided by Polish companies has been used in over 80 ESA and NASA space missions.

Last year, Poland decided to increase its membership contribution for 2023-2025 by €295 million and signed agreements with ESA to support further development of the Polish space sector. This enhanced cooperation includes internships at ESA for Polish graduates, the construction of two or three observational satellites in Poland, new contracts for Polish companies, and the participation of a Polish astronaut in a mission to the International Space Station (ISS), planned for autumn 2024. The astronaut will conduct experiments prepared by Polish engineers and scientists, with intensive preparations already underway.

In total, the Ministry of Development and Technology allocated €360 million to ESA activities last year, with over 90% of this amount returning to Polish companies and scientific institutions collaborating with the European Space Agency.

“The increased contribution means that more Polish enterprises are participating in ESA programs. They are building correlations with other entities, gaining know-how and experience, and creating their portfolios to independently enhance their potential and undertake increasingly complex technological projects,” says Sługocki.

The Polish space sector now includes over 400 entities, mainly SMEs and institutes, with more than 200 collaborating with ESA daily. The sector employs about 15,000 people, and contracts won by Polish companies exceed €140 million. Polish space companies specialize in areas such as control and robotics, Earth observation data applications, mechatronics, optics, satellite communication systems, scientific sensors, and space and ground software. Key European space companies and ICT and aerospace companies also have branches in Poland.

“The space industry, long underestimated, is crucial as it reflects the potential, innovation, and competitiveness of the Polish economy. It affects various aspects of our economic life and is also essential for building military security for Poland, EU member states, and NATO, especially during the ongoing war caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. We recognize this and aim to allocate more funds to the space sector, not just through the Ministry of Development and Technology or in cooperation with ESA, but also through the actions of the Minister of Defense and the Minister of Science,” Sługocki explains.

The development of space technology impacts many areas of daily life, such as security, exemplified by satellite navigation widely used in defense and military communications. Medical advancements like laser eye surgery, kidney dialysis, artificial heart support, and CT scans also benefit from space mission technologies. Everyday items like thermal foil, non-contact thermometers, water filters, and memory foam mattresses are also space inventions.

“Many solutions used in the space sector are later adapted in other industries. An important element achieved through the Polish Space Strategy is dual-use companies, which operate in both civilian and defense sectors,” says Sługocki.

The Polish Space Strategy, adopted in 2017, defines the strategic directions for the sector’s development in Poland and support instruments. The PSK outlines three main strategic goals and five specific goals by 2030, including increasing the competitiveness and share of domestic entities in the European space sector, developing satellite applications, enhancing state security and defense capabilities using space technologies, creating favorable conditions for further sector development, and building a skilled workforce.

“The Polish Space Strategy and the National Space Program are currently under review. Both documents are complementary, with one determining the creation of the other. Work on them is ongoing at the Ministry of Development and Technology, in cooperation with the Polish Space Agency and space sector employers. We are very open because the framework for the space sector’s functioning and the actions we need to take as a state administration must be dictated by the stakeholders who will actually build this sector, namely Polish entrepreneurs,” emphasizes Sługocki.

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