“We are going back to the Moon – for good!” – as Jim Bridenstine, NASA Administrator, declared this year. Humans’ return to the Moon and their constant presence on our natural satellite will soon be a fact, and a company from Wrocław Technology Park can mark its contribution to this undertaking. Earlier this week, two space startups from Poland and Germany have signed a letter of intent, the subject of which is the development of technology necessary to send a microsatellite to the Moon’s orbit. It can be the first commercial satellite from Europe sent towards the Silver Sphere. According to the plans, the satellite would be launched in 2025.
Scanway and German Orbital Systems are two companies related to the New Space market, i.e. the market of modern space technologies. Both of them develop innovative solutions for small CubeSat type satellites, and have already implemented several space solutions. One of the projects handled by Scanway, located in Wrocław Technology Park, was the provision of a measurement chamber – a key component of the suborbital scientific experiment DREAM carried out by the Wrocław University of Science and Technology and the European Space Agency. For a year and a half, the company has also been executing a project involving the work on an Earth observation satellite named ScanSAT, implemented with the use of funds granted by the National Centre for Research and Development. The device is to start imaging the Earth in 2021 at the latest. German Orbital Systems, a company located in Berlin, has already sent five satellites to orbit. One of their purposes is to demonstrate the company’s own space solutions. The extensive experience of both companies provides a solid basis for future ambitious satellite projects to be implemented in the years preceding the joint flight to the Moon i.e. in 2020-2025.
The Moon business
We are currently witnessing another international race to the Moon. China has already planted two rovers on its surface. NASA declared that in the next five years, an American would walk on the Moon. Private investors already see immense business potential in the commercialisation of Moon exploration. A German fund, Interstellar Ventures, which helped to establish Polish-German partnership, offered is capital of up to EUR 100 million for the development of business ideas in the area of New Space, such as the ones related to Moon exploration initiatives. Future astronauts and space probes require reliable and flexible infrastructure of navigation, reconnaissance and telecommunications systems. The last two systems can be supported by solutions developed as a result of joint efforts of Scanway and German Orbital Systems. The technology is about to be tested in orbit. The Wrocław-based company is currently completing the final stages of a R&D project concerning technologies for laser communication and Earth observation from orbit.
„We may not see it too clearly in Poland yet, but the space sector around the world is witnessing a flood of initiatives related to Moon exploration. We want to be a part of the initiatives that concern out natural satellite, and to take part in creating space market anew. That is why our ScanSAT satellite is designed to perform tasks that require flexibility, tasks that are meaningful to the entire planet, or even to the presence of humans on the Moon.”
– said Jędrzej Kowalewski, founder and President of Scanway.
One of the most interesting aspect of the Moon mission is the devotion of space in the satellite to two separate students’ experiments. Flight to the Moon will be “awarded” to two university teams from Poland and Germany, selected in national competitions. The purpose of the initiative is to involve young professionals in developing their skills and ambitions related to space. The initiative also allows Europeans to pursue their dream of reaching the Moon. The projects winning a “ticket to the Moon” will be selected in 2021. Authors of the initiative are hoping for the emergence of future specialists in the Polish space sector, especially since only a few state universities offer studies in the area directly related to space technologies.