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The Romanian Space Agency celebrates three years since Romania joined the European Space Agency

on 22 December 2014

Today, the Romanian Space Agency (ROSA) celebrates three years since Romania joined the European Space Agency (ESA), an event which took place on 22 December 2011.

Our country became then the 19th ESA Member State, reinforcing a cooperation started back in 1992, for research and the peaceful use of outer space. During these three years, ROSA coordinated the Romanian space activities related to ESA through 108 projects that have involved more the 90 organisations from Romania and 800 professionals, and has facilitated the opening of seven competence centers. This period was marked also by significant ESA contracts won by Romanian entities.

By obtaining the status of full ESA Member State, Romania proved to have competitive scientific and technical capacities at an European level, thus obtaining the same rights as the other ESA Member States and the access to opportunities for continuous technological, scientific and human resources development. After joining ESA, ROSA began together with its European partner an eight years long program for technological integration in ESA.

At the same time, the implementation of the Agreement between Romania and the European Space Agency on the accession of Romania to the ESA Convention is realised through the Programme for Research, Development and Innovation STAR — Space Technology and Advanced Research for the period 2012-2019, coordinated by the Romanian Space Agency.

So far, two competitions for STAR projects were organised by ROSA, which resulted in 108 ongoing projects, each contributing to the development of niche technological and scientific expertise aligned with the space development priority areas set by ROSA. Overall, more than 90 organisations coming from research, industry and academia are involved with a total of over 800 professionals working in this field.

During the 2012 STAR competition, the Romanian Space Agency funded the RoBiSAT-1 project, the first phase of the RoBiSAT space mission developed by the Institute of Space Sciences, which aims to entirely develop in Romania two of the 50 nanosatellites to be launched by the QB50 international collaboration.

Among other projects supported by ROSA are: EPTOS, which will design a software to simulate and optimise superior orbit transfer of satellites with electric propulsion, SaferDanube, which will provide assistance for ships sailing on the Danube river, and a project that brings contributions to designing a surveillance telescope for near-Earth asteroids, the FlyEye telescope.

Since 2013, ROSA started setting up seven centers of competence through the STAR programme. The seven centers aim to develop competence in areas such as radiation hardening for spaceflight components, sensors and „Big Data" technologies for space applications, Earth observation and remote sensing data to study the atmosphere, computer-assisted training for astronauts with terrestrial applications to increase athletes’ performance or recovery of disabled persons, launchers and spacecrafts, sustainable development of marine and coastal areas in Romania, nanosatellites development.

On 29 November 2013, the Romanian Space Agency signed a multilateral agreement for the Euclid mission within the ESA Committee for Science Programmes, held in Paris. Scheduled for launch in 2020, the Euclid mission will map the shape, brightness and 3D distribution of two billion galaxies, aiming to identify the role of dark matter and energy in the evolution and expansion of the universe.

During this period important steps have been taken in preparing for the AIDA mission, Asteroid Impact Deflection Assesement, by designing the necessary elements to orbit a double asteroid for kinetic impact deflection‏, for JUICE, the mission for the exploration of Jupiter and its satellites, or for participation in the Lunar Lander program for lunar exploration. Also, an observations satellite dedicated mainly for agriculture and forests’ monitoring is under preparation and the first step in developing a communications satellite was taken.

Among the most important ESA contracts obtained by Romanian organisations is the first European lidar, a tool for detecting and monitoring the tiny particles suspended in the air that will play an important role in preparing and validating data provided by the European mission for monitoring the atmosphere. The MULTIPLY project won in October 2014 an approx. 3 million euro contract from ESA and is coordinated by the National Institute of Research and Development for Optoelectronics.

During the ESA Ministerial Council on 2 December 2014, ROSA announced that Romania will join two new programs: the program for the development of the newest ESA rocket — Ariane 6, Romania being the 12th ESA Member State involved in the program, out of a total of 20 Member States, and the program for the exploitation of the International Space Station, Romania being the 12th European country involved in the program and the 16th country in the world part of the Space Station consortium.

The involvement in these optional programs was made based on the evaluation of the capacity and potential for space activities. Moreover, since joining ESA, the Romanian Space Agency prioritised Romania's participation in the following ESA optional programs:

  • Earth observation, the program which allows Europe to understand the Earth functioning system and its processes, particularly in the context of global change.
  • Human space flight and robotic exploration, which enables Europe to be involved in the development of space infrastructures and technologies required for space exploration beyond the Earth orbit.
  • Launchers, the program which provides independent access to space for Europe.
  • Galileo, the European global satellite navigation system.
  • Telecommunications and integrated applications, the program which is ensuring Europe's future on the worldwide SATCOM market and is transforming research into commercial applications.
  • Security programs, through which Europe is developing the ability to independently track objects and natural phenomena that could affect the satellites in orbit and the infrastructure on Earth.
  • Technology, a program which develops new technologies for a wide range of space programs and which supports the industrial competitiveness.
  • Scientific support, a program which supports the industrial development of scientific instruments or experiments proposed by institutes or universities and selected by ESA.

In order to promote the opportunities offered to the Romanian industry through the participation in these optional programs, ROSA organised around 20 informative sessions in Bucharest and in major cities of the country, which facilitated a direct dialogue between industry representatives from Romania and ESA experts.

ROSA has also supported educational activities in the space area, organising workshops for teachers, summer camps for students, events dedicated to the general public, such as World Space Week, and in May 2014 it launched in Romania together with ESA the European Space Education Resource Office. ESERO Romania joined a European network present at the time in 10 countries on the continent.

Milestones of the Romania - ESA collaboration

  • 1992 - The first agreement between Romania and ESA for space collaboration for peaceful purposes was signed in Paris and ratified by Law no. 40/1993, event which paved the way for Romanian participation in several research projects, together with other European countries.
  • 1999 - The Romania - ESA Agreement on the cooperation for the exploitation and peaceful use of outer space, event which intensified the collaboration opportunities between industries in Romania and ESA.
  • 2006 - The accession of Romania to the ESA Programme for European Cooperating States – PECS was signed.
  • 2007 – Romania started to contribute to ESA’s budget as an European Cooperating State, status ratified by Law no. 1/2007. Within the PECS program, Romania conducted projects to observe the heliosphere, to develop software for the Planck mission, to develop an application for the use of Earth observation data etc.
  • 2011 - Romania became the 19th Member State of the European Space Agency.

Useful links

Image: January 2011, signing the ESA Agreement ratified in December 2011. Credit: ROSA