EU’s Agency for the Space Programme opening its doors to visitors
The EU Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA), whose headquarters are located in Prague, is set to open up to the public this Friday and Saturday for the first time since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The rapidly expanding agency, which manages Europe’s navigation, observation and communications systems from space, has prepared a wide array of events, ranging from a satellite image exhibition, to various workshops and lectures.
Unless you are a scientist, a description of all the space related systems that EUSPA handles may leave you a bit confused. But they are vital in helping us manage our daily tasks, explains the agency’s executive director, Rodrigo da Costa.
“It is crucial for Europe to have space capabilities. All of them of course, but especially in the domains of navigation, earth observation and communications.
“We are using space data, space services, basically every day across a variety of activities. Whether it be when we look at our weather forecast, when we are driving our cars to a particular destination, or when we order food, etc.
“There is a very close connection between our daily lives and space, even if it may not seem so at first.”
Having these systems in place is crucial not just for Europe’s sovereignty and strategic autonomy, he says, but also for supporting global collaboration on shared threats.
“For example, when it comes to disaster management – whenever there are earthquakes or floods – data from EUSPA is being provided all around the world to help human lives.”
Those hoping to learn more about the various tasks that EUSPA handles will have an excellent opportunity to do so this Friday and Saturday, says the agency’s executive director, as its headquarters are being opened up to visitors from the ranks of the public.
“We have prepared an exhibition focusing on the Copernicus [European Earth observation programme], demonstrations of the Galileo [satellite navigation system] and a simulation of a landing using EGNOS [Europe's regional satellite-based augmentation system], so it will be a great opportunity to see everything that the space programme brings.”
The Copernicus exhibition specifically, will feature many photographs of European locations from space, says EUSPA’s head of communications, Milena Hrdinková.
“Visitors will also be able to see pictures of Prague here, which is a rather green and red city when looked at from space. It can also look very black and white, like it was last year when there was an extreme amount of snowfall. We have a picture of that too.”
These activities will all be accompanied by a diverse range of workshops, seminars and competitions based around EUSPA’s activities, with a particular focus on children on Friday.
Aspiring scientists and businesspeople are also set to benefit from the career advice and space entrepreneurship opportunities that EUSPA experts promise to provide as part of the programme.
The former may come in handy, as the agency is currently going through a major expansion that Mr da Costa says will see EUSPA’s staff increase by 50 percent between the years 2021 to 2023.
“New EU regulation has enlarged our responsibilities and for that we of course need more experts, more staff working for us. Dedicated professionals who will turn the politically set direction into a concrete reality.”
The expansion of the agency’s responsibilities means that EUSPA will not just handle the European Union’s space navigation, earth observation and communication systems, but also space surveillance and tracking too.
Last but not least, prospective visitors should take note that the open days will offer one of the last opportunities to see EUSPA’s current headquarters building in Prague’s Holešovice district, as the agency is set to move its offices across the river to Palmovka within the next three years.
More information about EUSPA’s Open Days 2022 can be found here: https://www.euspa.europa.eu/euspa-open-days-2022