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Preparations have started for the implementation of Hungary’s space strategy with the aim to send a Hungarian research astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS) by the middle of the decade, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in Porto on Friday. The ministry said Szijjártó had told a ministerial meeting of the European Space Agency (ESA) that earlier this year, the Hungarian government approved the country’s national space strategy for the next ten years. The selection of a Hungarian astronaut has started, with an application deadline set at the end of January. The mission will be part of a comprehensive scientific programme, he said. The astronaut’s tasks will include carrying out tests in dosimetry, materials science, space biology and pharmaceuticals. Additionally, the astronaut will be tasked with the installation of a device currently being developed in joint Hungarian-Russian cooperation for improved weather forecasts in space. Preparations have also started for the launch of a Hungarian telecommunications satellite to orbit around the Earth and for the development of its land segment. Starting in 2024, Hungary will have the rights to operate a geostationary track for twenty years and it will therefore have its own telecommunications satellite, the statement added. Szijjártó also said that the government had set up a fund to support companies operating in the sector. Additionally, seventeen universities have cooperated in launching an educational programme on space science.
He also said that Hungary had recently signed a strategic agreement for space research cooperation with French-Italian joint venture Thales Alenia Space which will enable Hungarian companies to participate in the operation of one of the world’s largest satellite fleet.