GSA expanding in Prague

The EU-backed satellite program will be adding hundreds of jobs

Prague will become a more important player in space research. The European Parliament approved the expansion of the European Global Navigation Satellite System (GSA).

This gives Prague, where the agency is based, a chance to capitalize on the potential for more scientific projects and closer EU cooperation.

The GSA is supposed to add hundreds of employees. Prague will benefit not only from increased prestige but also with related business development and convention tourism.

The exact amount of financial support the GSA will get from the EU is still be negotiated.

Member of European Parliament Jiří Pospíšil (TOP 09) said he is working to get the maximum amount.

Jiří Pospíšil and Prague City Councilor Jan Chabr (TOP 09) are meeting with the GSA CEO Carlo des Dorides to establish closer cooperation between the city and the agency.

Chabr says the city is ready to give the GSA maximum support, and is actively negotiating with the Czech Government Office on cooperation between the city and all relevant state administration bodies. “We are also preparing an active communication campaign to attract more investors,” Chabr said, according to press reports.

The GSA manages the Galileo navigation system. Galileo, since it is newer and based on more advanced technology, is more accurate and reliable than the rival American GPS system. Russia is also developing its own GLONASS, while China is working on the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS).

The EU having its own system ensures its independence if the rival systems block access for political reasons. It also allows the EU to customize its own projects and priorities.
Galileo currently has 22 satellites in orbit and plans to add 30 more to increase the system’s accuracy.

The GSA will also oversee the Copernicus program for Earth observation, which monitors the environment and safety. It aims is to create high quality Earth observation capacity that provides accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change, and ensure civil security.

Local companies can benefit in particular from GSA workshops that help to explain some of the new technology and developments. They can also get relatively easy access to GSA officials.

The GSA has been operating in Prague since 2012 with an office in Prague 7. Currently, it employs 200 people in Prague. During its existence, the agency, together with the Galileo navigation system, has brought over Kč 3 billion to the Czech budget. It also helps Czech companies that are involved in the development of satellite and navigation technology. These companies can also apply for R&D support from European funds.

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