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Preparations have begun for the implementation of the Hungarian space strategy

Its main aim is to send a Hungarian research spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) by the middle of this decade, according to Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó.

According to the ministry’s statement, Szijjártó said at a ministerial-level meeting of the European Space Agency (ESA) that the government had adopted the first national space strategy for the next 10 years and that the process of selecting a Hungarian astronaut had already begun, with the deadline for applications being the end of January.

Szijjártó said that the astronaut’s tasks will include dosimetry, materials science, space biology, pharmaceutical tests and experiments. It will also deploy equipment currently being developed in a joint Hungarian-Russian project to improve space weather forecasting.

In the framework of this strategy, preparations have also started for the launch of a Hungarian telecommunications satellite into orbit and the development of the related ground segment. 

Hungary will have the right to operate a geostationary orbital segment for 20 years from 2024, so it will again have its own telecommunications satellite, he said.

Szijjártó also said the government had set up a financial fund to support Hungarian companies operating in the sector. In addition, a complementary training program in space science has been developed in cooperation with 17 Hungarian universities to ensure competitive skills.

Hungary recently signed a strategic agreement on space cooperation with the French-Italian Thales Alenia Space, which will allow Hungarian companies to participate in the operation of one of the world’s largest satellite fleets, the minister said.

Szijjártó noted that the 75th anniversary of the successful European lunar radar experiment by Hungarian physicist Zoltán Bay is this year. Hungary also hosted the 33rd Congress of the International Astronautical Federation, which was attended by more than 60 astronauts and at least 1,000 Hungarian students.

“Although Hungary is clearly a small country; one of the very few positive effects of our communist past is that we have acquired some capacities in space exploration, so we try to be active,” he said.

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