Global satellite agency opens doors in Prague

The GNSS Agency will let you take a space selfie with a Galileo satellite

People will have a chance to see what goes on in the European GNSS Agency's (GSA) Prague headquarters, which opened four years ago. The second annual GSA open days takes place Friday and Saturday, December 2–3, at the GSA headquarters at Janovského 438/2 in Prague 7.

The public can get look behind the scenes at the Galileo and EGNOS space programs. Galileo is the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) created by the European Union through the European Space Agency (ESA) and the GSA. The European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) is a satellite system developed by the ESA, the European Commission and EUROCONTROL. It supplements the GPS, GLONASS and Galileo systems by monitoring the accuracy of the positioning data.

Four years ago, the GSA moved its headquarters from Brussels to Prague. To highlight the benefits the GSA brings to both Europe and the Czech Republic, the agency is holding its second annual open days.

The open days follow on the successful Ariane 5 rocket launch, which added four new satellites to the Galileo constellation. The launch increased the number of satellites in orbit to 18 and moves the system closer to the launch of service.

“Over the past four years the GSA has been transitioning the Galileo program from a deployment phase to an exploitation phase,” GSA Executive Director Carlo des Dorides said in a press release. “The upcoming declaration of Galileo Initial Services will confirm the GSA’s role in overseeing the service provision and monitoring the security of the overall system, with our Prague Headquarters serving as the epicenter of this mission.”

Last year, some 2,000 people visited including 500 students. This year’s edition will highlight the impact that Europe’s space programs has on Czech businesses and will feature several successful Czech space-based companies, along with lectures, competitions and interactive exhibits. Visitors are welcome to explore a Galileo satellite model, take a space selfie, attempt to land an aircraft using satellite navigation and view the Earth from a satellite, the GSA said in a press release.

The open days also highlight how the GSA’s location in Prague benefits the Czech Republic. “We planted the seeds by relocating here, and today we are seeing the results as more space applications and products are coming onto the market that originate from the Czech Republic,” des Dorides said.

The agency’s move has directly and indirectly impacted the Czech economy. Since 2012, the direct benefits to the Czech Economy has reached Kč 800 million. Czech companies also benefit from the GSA’s location in Prague, with an increasing number of companies and consortia of Czech companies and institutions applying for R&D funding via the EU’s Horizon 2020 framework program for research and innovation, the GSA press release states.

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