The EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation held a three-day conference on space technologies in mid-March. Two Czech firms were among the twelve private European companies that presented their operations to the Japanese participants. The firms’ trip to Japan was organisationally supported by CzechInvest.
The Czech company Iguassu Software Systems, a.s. presented to the Japanese its instruments for navigation systems, particularly SBAS (Satellite-Based Augmentation Systems), whose European version bears the EGNOS designation. This system is able to increase the accuracy of positioning using GPS or, in future, the Galileo navigation system.
“Japan is investing intensively in its own navigation system, the QZSS (Quasi-Zenith Satellite System). On one hand, we would like to sell to Japan our existing products, which are suitable for this system, while on the other hand we are interested in directly collaborating on its development with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and with private firms,” says Petr Bareš, owner of Iguassu.
In Japan there is considerable interest in Czech experience in this field. “In Europe, the development of SBAS/EGNGOS had a head start of many years; Iguassu has been involved with these technologies since 2005. This is one of the few space technologies where it can be said that the Czech Republic has a leg up on Japan,” Bareš adds.
The second Czech representative at the conference was Space Innovations, s.r.o., which is involved with manned flights and artificial life support in general. The company is able to design, for example, a concept for a base on the moon and new settlements in areas destroyed by natural disasters.
“We specialise in the architecture of systems that include people in an extreme environment. We are one of the few companies in the European Union that provide services in the area of research, design and development of hardware for simulating manned flights, whereas similar hardware can have practical uses on Earth,” says Ondřej Doule, founder of Space Innovations.
The company was well received in Japan. “I was very surprised by the interest in our know-how from the area of commercial manned flights and in our possible contribution to the planned Japanese commercial spaceport for suborbital flights,” says Doule.
There are a number of firms in the Czech Republic operating in the space-technology industry. The absolute majority of them are associated in the Czech Space Alliance (CSA). CSA members that are actively seeking opportunities in Japan include, for example, AVX, ESC, Frentech Aerospace, 5M, CSRC and Toseda (a full list of CSA members is available here). Together with the Ministry of Transport of the Czech Republic, the CSA is currently working to conclude a formal agreement with JAXA.
Czech firms in the area of space technologies generally specialise in Earth observation, satellite navigation and telecommunications, space monitoring or development of advanced materials such as composites and polymers.
Japanese companies that have already invested in the Czech Republic in this industry include Rigaku, a manufacturer of optics and X-ray spectrometry equipment. The company’s local branch, Rigaku Innovative Technologies Europe s.r.o., is located in the Dolní Břežany – Hodkovice – Vestec science complex. Another Japanese firm, Kyocera, operates in the Czech Republic via the company AVX Czech Republic s.r.o. in Lanškroun. The company’s components are used in the Curiosity rover on Mars, where they provide energy to the ChemCam laser module, which analyses rock surfaces.
Czech firms will have another opportunity to establish cooperation in the area of exploration in the second week of May, when CzechInvest will conduct a mission of Czech aerospace firms to the United States on the occasion of Minister of Industry and Trade Jan Mládek’s official trip to Washington and New York.