Dr. Eng. Cosmonaut Maj. Gen. (ret.) Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu: Kazakhstan and Romania – the potential for space cooperation

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Kazakhstan represents for me a special country, with which I have professional ties stretching back over 35 years – I launched into space from the territory of this nation in 1981, my feet touched agerpres_8618806the ground after my voyage here as well, I became an honorary citizen of the city of Djeskazgan, made numerous visits to the Baikonur Cosmodrome, but also to the new space center in Astana, and I also participate in numerous international events related to space with the three Kazakhstani cosmonauts. Finally, in my professional activity, I seek to propose, on behalf of the institutions I represent, new ways of professional cooperation that are beneficial to all.

In September 2016, I had the opportunity and the privilege of addressing distinguished participants in the “Kazakhstan at the Forefront of Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament” Conference organized in Bucharest by the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Romania and the Romanian Diplomatic Institute. In attendance were his Excellency Mr. Roman Vassilenko, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Dan Petre, General Director the Romanian Diplomatic Institute and His Excellency Amb. Daulet Batrashev.

Kazakhstan is one of the most dynamic regional players and an evolving strategic hub for international business in Central Asia and the wider Eurasian space. The leaders of Kazakhstan nurture a vision for their country as a bridge between East and West and have adopted Eurasianism as a guiding principle in their development strategy, which should reach an important milestone in 2017, with Astana hosting an World Exhibition.

06-07-dumitru-dorin-prunariu-saliut6-may1981-eOne of the areas where Kazakhstan is already an emergent player is that of outer space. It is building on its role hosting the strategic asset of the Baikonur Cosmodrome and its cooperation with the Russian Federation to attract leading European companies from the space industry to build satellites, track them in orbit, receive and analyze data, as well as other initiatives.

The future will present substantial opportunities in answering emerging needs of the global space industry and of other non-spacefaring nations that are, nevertheless, critically dependent on space systems without having the resources of the United States, Russia, China or the Western European countries. Many problems related to good governance of space remain unanswered, though this area is a global commons that must be collectively maintained and exploited sustainably, because of existing international accords and also the space system interdependencies between the developed and developing states. Among these issues, we mention, on the one hand, the administrative and legislative framework governing the increasing involvement of the private sector in low Earth orbit (LEO) and addressing its concerns (similar to how such a framework governs activities in international waters) and, on the other hand, incentivizing sustainable practices for exploiting space by minimizing the creation of space debris, through the study of threats and hazards from outer space, but also through the prevention of the militarization of space. Such a center would also take up specific projects, such as risk analyses, or argue in favor of common international positions within global bodies such as the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS).

Kazakhstan is ideally placed to contribute to such developments, given its strategic position, its good relations with all major space players, its interest and preexisting assets in the field of space, as well as its capacity to take advantage of the results of such a center for stimulating innovation and creating new products and services in a rapidly growing industry.

The good cooperation between Kazakhstan and Romania in this field can embolden innovation and competitiveness for both nations, and provide a strategic argument for attracting new investment. Synergies between the two countries may be identified, as well as enhancing the cooperation for the pursuit of common and natural interests of the two developing economies, such as the accessibility, affordability and sustainability of access to space services which they require to function and develop.

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to express my congratulations and sincere best wishes on the occasion of the National Day of the Republic of Kazakhstan to my good friend, the former President of the Kazakhstan Space Agency and current Adviser to President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the experienced former cosmonaut Talgat Musabayev, with whom I have enjoyed a long and fruitful professional cooperation.

 

* Mr. Prunariu is President of ROMSPACE Association, Vice-President of the EURISC Foundation, Honorary Member of the Romanian Academy, Member of the International Academy of Astronautics.