Space was embraced as the subject of celebration in the Czech Republic this year, with the European Space Agency (ESA) helping to flag up the nation’s footprint in the cosmos in a week of intense space-related events.
Several space anniversaries demanded to be observed in 2018 – the most historic being 40 years since cosmonaut Vladimír Remek became the first Czech in space. Magion 1, the first Czech satellite was launched into orbit just a few months later. It was also the time to celebrate the country’s first ten years as members of ESA. To commemorate these milestones the Ministry of Transport, along with the Business and Investment Development Agency Czech Invest, declared 2018 as Czech Space Year.
A national space year proved to be the perfect way to celebrate past achievements and future space endeavours, both in the Czech Republic and more generally across different member states.
From hackathon to high-level conferences
Czech Space Year culminated in a series of events, including a hackathon, start-up and high-level conferences, a space industry day, job fair, sci-fi concert and movie screening –all rolled out between the 9-18 November during Czech Space Week.
The week was co-organised by the Czech ESA Business Incubation Centre (BIC) and took place across multiple venues in Prague and Brno. Events were aimed at and attracted the full spectrum of stakeholders – from national and international policy makers, key industry players to students and general space enthusiasts – with the only precondition for participation being a fascination for all things space.
A high-level conference attended by ESA Director General Jan Woerner summarised the Republic’s first ten years as a member of ESA, featuring presentations and an evaluation of the country’s participation in space projects. There was also acknowledgement of successful technologies and missions in which it would have been difficult for Czech firms and scientists to participate without the involvement of ESA.
Industry Day held for the first time in the Czech Republic
The annual trade fair ‘Industry Day’ was held in Brno’s spectacular Observatory and Planetarium – which houses an interactive Exploratorium with extra-terrestrial rocks and fossils. ESA Business Applications presented on the potential of space-enabled business applications in the Czech Republic – across fields such as intelligent transport, autonomous mobility and regional development mobility. The Industry Day was comprised of sessions with start-ups, SMEs and big multinational businesses as well as exhibitions stands and dedicated one-to-one meetings.
Czech projects supported by ESA Business Applications programme so far include:
- Dromas DP – a demonstration project on agricultural crop monitoring and assessment driven by satellites
- SIS-SREM – a demonstration project on safety and information systems for ski resorts in emerging markets
- AUDROS – a feasibility study on autonomous drone services in the CBRNe operations.
Marek Aldorf of Czech Invest said: “Czech Space Week 2018 clearly showed how the space industry is growing in the Czech Republic. As ESA BIC Prague we are proud that our start-ups are creating practical uses for space technologies and already applying them to the market, as we demonstrated during the Czech Space Industry day.”