Agreement extended with space agency

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Latvia formalized its ongoing membership in the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Plan for European Cooperating States Friday with the signing of the plan charter in Paris by Ambassador to France Sanita Pavļuta-Deslandes and ESA general director Jean-Jacques Dordain.

The signing means the government has undertaken a number of significant and innovative projects in accordance with the ESA’s program, altogether investing about €7m in the projects.

Dordain welcomed Latvia’s decision not to let its ESA Cooperating State status lapse and commit to five more years of participation in Europe’s independent agency for space technology, exploration and research. The plan charter provides for the first five projects in space science, earth observation and education, keeping in mind that many more will follow. Some are already looking promising, such as the Latvian Wood Chemistry Institute’s project that could have application in a future rocket program, the ESA general director pointed out.

Dordain also repeatedly invited Latvia’s students to apply for internship opportunities at ESA research centers. Only two doctoral candidates have taken advantage of such chances so far.

On her part, Ambassador Pavļuta-Deslandes welcomed Latvia’s step closer to full ESA membership status and hoped the next five year term would help the country prepare for full membership so that it would have equal competitive status with the rest of the agency’s member-states.

On Tuesday the Cabinet ruled at closed session to conceptually support the state’s ongoing participation in the ESA. Prior to that it seemed to be preparing for a reputation-damaging pullout that would have infuriated the nation’s science community.

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