23.01.2019 change 23.01.2019

Head of POLSA: We should think about sending Polish astronauts into space

Photo: Fotolia Photo: Fotolia

Poland should think about engaging in Human Spaceflight in the future, or send our own astronauts into space, head of POLSA Dr. Grzegorz Brona said in an interview with PAP. A Polish astronaut could take part in a manned mission after 2025.

"In addition to unmanned flights, launching satellites into orbit, participation in the construction of the Lunar Station, in the future we should also think about engaging in Human Spaceflight, sending Polish astronauts into space" - says Brona.

The President of the Polish Space Agency explains that the easiest way to do this is through cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA). "The agency has a program, it has its own group of astronauts and a training system that several astronauts go through every year. This staff is created on the basis of European resources and currently participates mainly in flights to the International Space Station" - he notes.

According to Brona, the only way for Poland to participate in manned space flights is to work closely with ESA by engaging "in its specific activities, specific program".

"Bear in mind that this is a costly endeavour: a flight to the space station alone is a cost of 40 million euros. More if we consider a more ambitious program of astronaut`s presence in space and doing some work on the space station" - explains Brona.

The head of POLSA notes that in the next three years, the entire national space program in Poland is expected to absorb about 30 million euros - funds transferred to POLSA for its implementation.

"Thus, it seems that we can not afford a full-time accession to the ESA`s Human Spaceflight program at this point, but there is another possibility that we will probably explore in our country this and next year, namely a review of Polish capabilities in terms of in-kind contribution" - he says. The idea is to provide a specific Polish infrastructure for the purposes of manned flight training.

Brona emphasises that we have suitable centrifuges and atmospheric pressure lowering systems in Poland, which can also be used to test astronauts` abilities, as well as places where we can build or adapt existing Zero-G swimming pools, in which future astronauts can train.

"After reviewing this infrastructure, we may be able to offer the European Space Agency our contribution to training astronauts, which around 2025, maybe a little later, could give us access to the possibility of placing Polish astronauts in orbit, and maybe even reaching further, towards the moon base, which is scheduled to be operational at that time" - says the President of POLSA.

He adds that other initiatives are also being considered. "We are considering cooperation with NASA and the Chinese Space Agency, but closer cooperation with the European Space Agency seems to be the fastest, optimal direction" - he says.

Brona notes that astronaut training is a long-term process. "It is not as easy as an astronaut taking a course, completing training in a week or two and being ready to be sent into space. A professional astronaut needs two to five years to complete such a course" - he emphasises. He adds that trainings are complex. They concern engineering matters (astronauts must be able to operate various parts of the space station and spaceship), and include learning foreign languages. "Astronauts must master the English language, the Russian language, because most missions are currently joint between Russia and the United States, they must also master surviving in difficult conditions" - he explains. He adds that astronauts are also often sent to remote, wild places for several weeks, where they have to prove that they can survive in extreme, stressful situations. "After a few years of such training, they get a certificate, in particular the European Space Agency awards such certificates, and become members of the European astronaut corps" - he explains.

In his opinion, Poland can provide "young people who are physically, psychologically and intellectually fit to participate in such space flights".

PAP - Science in Poland, Magdalena Jarco

maja/ skr/ maja/

tr. RL

Copyright © Foundation PAP 2019