Global space event in the Golden City
This month the annual Congress of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) will be held in Prague for the first time in 33 years. The global event highlights the growing activities in space industry, science and education in the Czech Republic — ESA's newest Member State.
The 61st International Astronautical Congress (IAC) will take place in Prague from 27 September to 1 October. The annual congress encourages the advancement of space knowledge and enables the global space community to share its experience and deepen worldwide cooperation.
The event spotlights the long space research and development history and ambitions of the Czech Republic, which joined ESA in 2008.
The Czech Space Office (CSO) was established in 2003, when the country became one of the first to join ESA's Plan for European Cooperating States (PECS).
"A National Space Plan was recently established by the Ministries of Education, Youth and Sports, Transport, Industry and Trade, Environment and Foreign Affairs with clear objectives and rationale. The primary goal of the CSO is to increase the participation of Czech organisations in international space projects. We also foster educational opportunities for youth," says Dr Jan Kolář, Head of the CSO and local organiser of this year's IAC event.
Czech space science: decades of development
In 1969, the Soviet Union's Interkosmos-1 was the first satellite to carry instruments developed in the former Czechoslovakia into orbit. In 1978, Czechoslovak astronaut Vladimír Remek became the first European to fly in space, aboard Soyuz 28.
"The first wholly developed Czechoslovak satellite, Magion-1, flew in 1978. With our involvement in former Soviet missions to Mars and Phobos, several dozen Czech devices and systems had flown in space by the end of the 1980s," says Dr Kolář.
In the 1990s, despite massive national change, four more Magion satellites were flown, strengthening the Czech Republic's expertise in magnetospheric and ionospheric science. In 2003, the country orbited Mimosa, which carried a micro-accelerometer.
Today, the main areas for Czech space science include the Sun, space weather and processes in Earth's ionosphere and magnetosphere. Czech experiments that observe plasma and wave phenomena are orbiting on ESA's Proba-2 satellite and Czech participation in the coronograph to be flown on Proba-3 is also proposed.
Czech physicists are also involved in the development of a new generation of atomic clocks to be tested on the International Space Station, while the upcoming Solar Orbiter would have participation from Czech scientists for three of its instruments.
Supporting youth and education
One of the major reasons for hosting the IAC in Prague is to support students who dream of a space career. "We have special events planned," says Dr Kolář. "The 'Space Generation Congress' will be held a week prior to the main IAC. There are also education workshops for teachers, a university forum and a workshop for student Cubesat developers."
"We aim to show the world Czech space competence and help our young people make a positive contribution to Europe in space."
Jan Kolář, Head of the Czech Space Office
Prvniho pluku 17
186 00, Praha 8
Tel.: +420 224 918 288
Fax: +420 224 918 288