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Romania will own a part of the International Space Station and will contribute to the development of the latest European rocket, Ariane 6

on 03 December 2014

Following the European Space Agency (ESA) Ministerial Council, held in Luxembourg on 2 December 2014, Romania joined the European partners in two strategically important ESA programs: the International Space Station (ISS) and the development of Ariane 6 rocket.

The development of Romanian space capabilities in recent years under the coordination of the Romanian Space Agency (ROSA) thus receives new European-wide recognition.

ROSA prioritised Romania's participation in these programs based on the national space strategy. The Romanian delegation at ESA was composed of the Delegate Minister for Higher Education, Scientific Research and Technological Development, Mihnea Costoiu, Secretary of State within the Ministry of National Education, Tudor Prisecaru, and ROSA President, Marius-Ioan Piso.

Delegatia RomanieiThe Ministerial Council was attended by representatives of the 20 ESA Member States, which include Romania also. The main topics for decision were reflected in three Resolutions: the Resolution on Europe's access to space, which recognises the strategic and socio-economic value of Europe maintaining an independent, reliable and affordable access to space for institutional and commercial European customers; the Resolution on Europe's space exploration strategy, addressing ESA's three destinations (low-Earth orbit (LEO), Moon and Mars) and, for the LEO destination, in particular the International Space Station (ISS) Programme; and, finally, the Resolution on ESA's evolution.

At the Luxembourg meeting, ESA Council members decided to develop the new European rockets Vega C and Ariane 6, which, by modularity and flexibility, will be able to satisfy the European institutional market requirements and to compete on the worldwide market. By prioritising Romania's participation in the program for the development of the latest European rocket, Ariane 6, the Romanian Space Agency provides the space industry in Romania with the opportunity to enroll in the competition for contracts for developing the European launcher's components. Romania's admission in this program next to only 11 other ESA Member States shows that our country already has competitive industrial capacities. Also, Romania's participation in the development of Ariane 6 will contribute to the technological development, innovation and training in niche areas, with potential to reinforce the role Romania plays in the European and global space strategy.

The second strategic direction endorsed by the Romanian Space Agency (ROSA) is Romania's involvement in the program dedicated to the International Space Station (ISS). After the United States announced at the International Forum for Space Exploration, held in Washington DC, in January 2014, attended also by the Romanian delegation, that the US will continue to invest in the ISS, ROSA started a series of efforts towards joining the European members involved in this program: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK, steps successfully completed on 2 December 2014. By becoming a part of the ESA program dedicated to the Space Station, Romania becomes co-owner of the station, along with other European countries as well as the international partners: US, Canada, Russia and Japan.

Romania's involvment in this program aims to develop national capacities, technologies and specialised workforce in space exploration. The Space Station is an excellent laboratory to test technologies for space missions in low orbit, and for Solar System exploration missions as well. The ESA Council decision to continue the ISS program takes into account also the preparation for three different directions of space exploration: LEO missions, missions to the Moon and Mars. Romania is also interested to launch nanosatellites fyling in formation from the ISS, a niche area which is on the ROSA agenda.

"Nanosatellites with commercial purposes will play an increasingly important role for space and terrestrial applications. We want Romania to be a major player in this market", said ROSA President, Marius-Ioan Piso. "The development of commercial nanosatellites will lead to the development of innovative technologies that will allow us then to get involved in the Solar System exploration missions, beyond the Earth's low orbit."

Romania's involvement in these programs is an acknowledgment of the Romanian contribution in the space field and also a continuation of the Romanian participation in this direction. The first space experiment with Romanian participation was conducted in 1972, within the Intercosmos program, and in 1981, on 14 May, Romania sent the first cosmonaut in space, being the 11th country in the world to achieve this. Today, Romania, an ESA Member State, is the 12th European country and the 16th in the world that owns a percentage of the International Space Station.

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Image credit: ROSA and ESA