Mastering space technology and carrying out space research is for the majority of developed countries a significant step that places them in the top group of technologically advanced nations. It is not, however, the national pride or a good image of the country that makes space activity so important. Space is a strategic asset. Launching capabilities, satellite manufacturing, operating of a ground segment mean a possibility of employing space technologies for the benefit of citizens. Satellite telecommunication revolutionized information exchange and made the world a global theater. Satellite navigation solved the problem of localization of persons and vehicles and of time comparison and transfer. Earth observing satellite techniques are becoming an indispensable tool in agriculture, forestry, crisis management, spatial planning and climate change monitoring.
Space market is currently worth 300 bln $, but its steady growth at a rate 10-20% per year shows that it can reach 1 000 bln $ in 15 years. The race of countries and companies for getting a share of it is going on. Poland has no other possibility than to join the competition, if it wants to be among the thirty most developed countries in the world.
The awareness of the importance of space activity is now common among politicians and decision makers in Poland. The Roadmap of Developing Space Activity in Poland prepared by the Ministry of Economy and accepted by the Prime Minister in 2012 clearly stated that Poland should take fast steps in closing the gap with respect to other EU countries concerning its space capacity. The priorities are:
- joining the European Space Agency (has already been done),
- implementing the National Space Programme,
- establishing a Polish Space Agency.
A prerequisite for the efficient functioning of the whole space sector is research and technology development.
The Poland's accession in 2012 to the European Space Agency (ESA), an international organization of European countries aiming at joint exploration of space, became a new challenge for Polish science to take a new shape and directions. Our membership in ESA provides many opportunities, from technological benefits resulting from the access to the programs of the Agency, through economic benefits especially in developing new sectors of the aerospace industry, to benefits for science and education following the development of space research potential of Polish institutions. However, the ESA accession also means a strong competition with other countries, to which Poland has to be prepared.
To answer to these challenges Poland needs a center of excellence in space technologies and space research. The awareness of the fact that only by joining forces of major research units this goal can be achieved encouraged the Military University of Technology and the Space Research Centre to set up a research network: the National Center of Space and Satellite Engineering (NCSSE). The two founding members of NCSSE represent, on one hand, a leading technology and educational academic unit and a top space research institute in Poland, on the other. They represent also a long tradition and experience in dealing with space issues (MUT was one of the first technical universities to introduce studies in Aviation and Cosmonautics, SRC has prepared more than 70 instruments that were launched into space). The network is open for the accession of new partners.
The mission of the Centre is to support innovation activities of the national authorities concerning space sector development and training of engineers and researchers.
The main objective of NCSSE is to become the country's leading center for the development of space technologies and satellite techniques and to be recognized as an important partner in the European space program.
The National Center of Space and Satellite Engineering aims at creating conditions for effective cooperation in science, research and teaching in the field of aerospace engineering and satellite applications. The consolidation and strengthening of the research potential of the network members will result in a faster development, implementation and commercialization of solutions in the area of aerospace engineering, satellite manufacturing, application services, and research.
The main tasks of NCSSE are:
- reaching a high research level in the field of aerospace engineering based on the combined staff of members;
- implementing a program of studies in the field of aerospace engineering and satellite applications and carrying out training of graduates and post-graduates in the network institutions;
- forming strong ties with the Polish space industry and assuring that technology transfer will result in fast implementation of solutions developed in NCSSE and in successful sells at international market;
- commercializing the research in the area of applications: Galileo, Copernicus, SSA and satellite telecommunications;
- establishing a platform for cooperation with other Polish research centers and universities, thus ensuring harmonious development of the space sector through a national network of scientific partners.
Areas of cooperation include:
- space technology (construction of instruments and satellite systems),
- testing and implementation of new materials and technologies,
- development of ground-based systems,
- satellite technology and applications (navigation, telecommunications and Earth observation systems),
- education at all levels of study,
- participation in dual-use projects.
Nowadays, it is important not to lose the opportunity to be in the elite club of countries gathered in the European Space Agency. The membership in ESA gives Polish institutions an access to the newest technology, facilitates their acquisition, creates new opportunities in the field of space research.
The dimension of innovation and the importance of the institution like NCSSE for the security of the country is clearly recognized in the National Security Strategic Review, which stated that the area of satellite technology is highly recommended for the national security.