Orbiting prosperity: The business boom of Poland’s space sector

Since 2012, Poland has been a member of the European Space Agency, accelerating the development of the Polish space sector. The Polish Space Agency (POLSA) was established in 2014 and functions as an executive agency under the Polish Ministry of Economic Development and Technology.

The agency’s primary task is to support the Polish space industry by bridging the worlds of business and science. POLSA also assists entrepreneurs in securing funding from the European Space Agency (ESA). An essential aspect of POLSA’s activities is promoting satellite technology development for practical applications in everyday life, including communication, navigation, environmental monitoring, and weather forecasting.

Thanks to its membership in ESA, Poland has emerged as a significant and recognizable partner in European space programs. It contributes to research and the development of space and satellite technologies. Polish scientists are establishing contacts with new partners, working on cutting-edge technologies, and gaining financial support and access to ESA infrastructure.

An increase of 295 million euros in Poland’s contribution to the European Space Agency (ESA) between 2023 and 2025 will result in tangible benefits for the country. This funding will be allocated to programs and activities aimed at propelling the Polish economy to a higher level of development. Furthermore, preparations are underway for a Polish mission to the International Space Station (ISS), during which scientific experiments will be conducted. This provides a distinctive opportunity for Polish companies to acquire valuable experience, showcasing the exceptional quality of Polish products. Additionally, a Polish astronaut will be part of this groundbreaking mission.

Poland is set to have its second representative in space, following the trailblazing footsteps of General Miroslaw Hermaszewski (1941-2022), who etched his name in history over 45 years ago. Hermaszewski embarked on his space odyssey on June 27, 1978, aboard the Soviet Soyuz 30 spacecraft. The groundbreaking mission spanned 8 days and included completing 126 orbits around the Earth.

On November 23, 2022, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced the selection of Sławosz Uznański, an accomplished astronaut and engineer holding a Ph.D. in electronics, for the esteemed position of ESA Astronaut Reserve. Uznański emerged victorious from a highly competitive field, surpassing more than 22,000 candidates from various European nations in a rigorous qualification process that spanned a year and a half. He is a candidate for the Polish ISS mission.

Key figures in the Polish space sector:

  • 450+ registered entities
  • 200+ entities daily collaborators with ESA
  • small and medium-sized enterprises constitute 80%
  • approximately 15 thousand employed in the sector
  • over 1,500 engineers contribute to the workforce
  • 540+ projects for ESA, totaling about 190 million EUR
  • involvement in 80 ESA and NASA missions
  • development of 100 new technologies
  • Polish contribution to ESA (2023-2025) <€44 million annually (mandatory and optional)
  • geographical return factor ~ 94%

Among the entities contributing to Poland’s continuously growing space sector is the AGH University of Krakow. Widely known for its expertise in engineering and technology, AGH has been actively involved in research and development initiatives related to space. The University’s unit: Space Technology Centre (STC) serves as a hub for interdisciplinary and international collaboration.

The Space Technology Center was established on November 2, 2020, by the decision of AGH Rector – prof. Jerzy Lis. The establishment was a result of the university obtaining the prestigious title of European University awarded by the European Commission. The main goal of the center was to carry out didactics and research in the broad field of space issues.

Nowadays, STC seeks to build strong relationships with space companies and agencies, and develop academic entrepreneurship in the space industry. At the Space Technology Centre, researchers and students engage in a wide array of projects related to space. The unit organizes international conferences, supports Student Research Clubs and their inventions. It facilitates the flow of knowledge between the academics and the students, offering various courses and workshops. Moreover, the Space Technology Centre is responsible for coordinating the UNIVERSEH project at the AGH University of Krakow and it hosted the UNIVERSEH 2.0 Kick-off-Meeting which took place in March 2024.

To sum up, with ongoing investments, strategic partnerships, and a growing pool of talent, Poland’s space sector is expected to grow even more significantly in the years to come. As our country expands its presence in European space programs, it is clear that the sky is not the limit for Poland’s aspirations in space exploration and innovation. And we hope that our Space Technology Centre will contribute to this growth significantly.

Space Technology Center’s website: https://ctk.agh.edu.pl/en