The Slovenia Times

Slovenia on track to becoming full member of ESA

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Kourou, French Guiana
The Vega rocket being prepared for the space launch.
Photo: The Centre of Excellence for Space Sciences and Technologies (SPACE-SI)

A delegation of the European Space Agency (ESA) visiting Slovenia ahead of the vote on the country's full membership of the organisation has commended the country on the progress made since becoming an associate member in 2016.

For Slovenia to be admitted to the ESA as a full-fledged member in the December 2024 vote, a consensus of all of the agency's members will be needed.

"Slovenia may be small in terms of geography, but its achievements in space technology and space are big," said Geraldine Naja, director of procurement, industry and competitiveness at the ESA.

With relatively small investment, the country, working along with the company Synergise, has developed key competences from lower domains.

It has market leaders in test equipment, such as Dewesoft, and is increasing its competences in the satellite hardware through companies such as Skylabs.

"In the future, long-term investment in space will be needed, and a coherent space strategy, which Slovenia is already working on," Naja told reporters on 9 July.

The delegation praised the new draft strategy, which will bring guidance and support to strengthen the space sector in Slovenia until 2030 and is to be adopted by 2024.

Tanja Permozer, head of the Slovenian Space Office at the Economy Ministry, said that special emphasis will be placed on the youth.

The government believes full ESA membership will bring new cooperation opportunities for Slovenian companies and other institutions, especially within the agency's Mandatory Scientific Programme.

However, Slovenia will also have to pay more into the ESA budget. As an associate member, it would pay €20 million in the next three years, which would double in case of full membership.

But Economy Minister Matjaž Han said that this should not be seen as a cost but as an investment in the future.

As a result of associate membership and activities of the Slovenian Space Office, Slovenian companies have struck more than 70 contracts as part of ESA calls, and the funds they have acquired exceed what Slovenia has contributed to the agency.

The Slovenian space sector has recorded rapid growth since the country became an associate member, Han said.

"Slovenia's greatest successes include having three satellites in space, with the launch of a fourth planned for next year," while Planica is home to a "human centrifuge" where special research is being carried out that will be important for preserving the health of astronauts during future missions.

The country is also intensifying bilateral cooperation in the area of space with countries such as Italy, France, Germany and the US.

"Space is definitely the sector of the future, even if it may sound impossible. The space sector is not just about astronauts and rockets, these technologies are embedded in science, business, medicine, telecommunications, the environment, to name but a few," said Han.


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