Regional Conference on Cooperation in Space Technologies Held in Zagreb

By 7 October 2019

ZAGREB, October 7, 2019 - Space research, aeronautics and space technologies are not the domain of only big countries and companies as small countries can actively participate as well, participants and guests in the first regional conference on cooperation in space sciences and technologies said in Zagreb earlier this week.

The event was hosted by the Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB) and organised by the Adriatic Aerospace Association, in cooperation with the IRB and the University of Zadar, under the auspices of the Croatian Economy Ministry.

Mario Antonić, the state secretary at the ministry, said that without innovation and research there was no development and that Croatia wanted to step up those processes in order to catch up with European and global trends. In doing so, we wish to learn from other countries such as Israel, he added.

Israeli Ambassador Ilan Mor said his country was willing to share its experience. Israel, although a small country and despite a hostile environment, looks into space and has ten satellites there now, he added.

Failures must not discourage us, we must learn from them and keep working, Mor said commenting on the failed landing of Israel's Baresheet spacecraft on the Moon, which crashed on the surface last April due to technical malfunctions.

Space research is important for the future of every country, including Croatia but, unfortunately, we cannot say that Croatia participates in it, said Tome Antičić, state secretary at the Science and Education Ministry. He added, however, that Croatia was trying to change that and was looking up to countries such as Israel.

IRB director David Matthew Smith said that many thought that space research was reserved only for big countries, but that it was not so. He added that many small companies in Croatia worked on some product that was important for space technologies.

Heinz Stoewer, one of the founders of the European Space Agency, said small countries could build small satellites and rockets as the technology was familiar and worked-out.

The president of the Adriatic Aerospace Association, Slobodan Danko Bosanac, said the aim of the conference was to encourage and strengthen regional cooperation in the research and development of space technologies, as well as establish contacts so that one could plan cooperation in space technologies, rocket power and rocket engineering.

Montenegrin Science Minister Sanja Damjanović presented a project which could help stop and reverse the brain drain problem in South East Europe.

The SEEIIST (Heavy Ions in South East Europe) project combines science and biomedicine, and envisages the construction of a scientific institute in one of the region's countries which would apply hadron therapy for cancer, i.e. treatment via protons and heavy ions, one of the most modern treatment methods for certain types of cancer.

There are 12 such centres in the world, including four in Europe, but none in South East Europe, so Damjanovic said its construction would help in the treatment of patients with a method that, for some cancers, had an almost 90% success rate.

Damjanovic said the countries in South East Europe needed financial assistance in this because the project was worth €200 million, adding that the goal of the SEEIIST was to build such a centre in the region by 2028.

She said Croatia had been among the first countries to support the project and that a Declaration of Intent was signed at CERN in October 2017. Ten ministers were there, including Croatian Science and Education Minister Blaženka Divjak. The declaration was signed by eight ministers, while Croatia agreed "ad referendum" and Greece agreed to observer status.

Six ministers signed a memorandum on the project in Poland last July. Damjanović said Slovenia would most likely sign it as well and that the signatories would be very glad if Croatia did too.

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