Latvia becomes member of European Space Agency

This week, June 24 2020, the Council of the European Space Agency (ESA) approved Latvia as an associated Member State of ESA, informed the Ministry of Education and Science (IZM) Communications Division on June 26.

This will open up new opportunities for Latvian scientists and entrepreneurs to cooperate with the European space industry, as well as to promote research and study base of universities.

The ESA Convention provides that the funding invested by Latvia as an associated Member State will return to Latvia at least 85% per year and will come to the disposal of Latvian high-tech companies and scientific institutions in order to further develop space technologies, innovation, services and their commercialization on the global market. Part of the Member States' contributions is the ESA budget, which is used for the maintenance of ESA infrastructure, the development and administration of new programs for the further development of the space sector.

IZM explained that Latvia's becoming an associated Member State of ESA is an investment in:

  • People of Latvia, as participation in European space missions and consortia will allow employees to develop high-tech skills and competences in the space sector, students and teachers to participate in activities under the supervision of ESA experts.
  • economic growth, as it will allow Latvia the access to technology for missions organised by ESA involving 22 European countries and international partners from the US, Japan, Canada and other technologically advanced countries. 
  • research and development, as it will offer scientific institutions to carry out excellent research projects under the supervision of ESA experts, using ESA's research infrastructure.

The space sector in Latvia and Europe is an interdisciplinary sector involving the development of space-related sciences and cross-sectoral industries, environmental protection, climate change, energy, telecommunications, traffic, civil security and other issues. Until now, fifteen different Latvian organisations have implemented 51 space technology development projects of 6.63 million, according to IZM.

ESA is an international organisation composed of 22 Member States. Its mission is to build and develop Europe's space capabilities and to ensure that investment in the space sector brings benefits to Europe's citizens and industry. ESA has set up seven technology centers in various ESA Member States with its headquarters in France, Paris. ESA employs around 2200 scientists, engineers, information technology specialists and administrative personnel from all ESA Member States. ESA's budget for 2020 is EUR 6.68 billion. Latvia's cooperation with ESA started in 2009.

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