TALLINN - Estonian Minister of Foreign Trade and IT Kert Kingo visited the Tartu Observatory in Toravere on Friday and met with researchers and entrepreneurs of the Estonian space field who gave the minister an overview of the Estonian space sector and its ambitions for the near future.
"By now, Estonia has been a full member of the European Space Agency (ESA) for four years already and this has provided us with knowledge and experience for finding the right niche for our entrepreneurship in the space field. An important step is also the creation of ESTHub, the Estonian satellite data center, in May, which will help companies using space data to get the data needed for work faster. Information collected from space helps businesses create services that make our lives safer, help save the environment, or establish the exact harvest time," Kingo said.
Joining ESA has created a wide range of opportunities for Estonian companies to participate in high-tech development work, enter high-tech supply chains, find new cooperation partners, gain access to world-class scientific and technological expertise, attract foreign investments and contribute to high-tech exports.
For example, the early warning system based on the open data of the European Union's satellites, which can detect the shifting and subsidence of large infrastructure -- including bridges, pipelines, port and mining areas and large buildings -- with an accuracy of up to one millimeter, was created in Estonia.
"Most of us are consumers of space-based e-services without acknowledging it every day -- be it using GPS navigation or tracking weather forecasts," the minister said.
According to the minister, topics related to cyber defense are also important for Estonia in the space sector.
"Cyber defense is a serious priority for us, and Estonia is well known in the world for its high level. It is certainly one of the most worthwhile cooperation directions between Estonian companies and the European Space Agency. Ever growing space infrastructure and services are increasingly dependent on software security, Estonian companies have the competence to solve these problems," Kingo said.
In Toravere, Kingo also met with builders of the Estonian student satellite from the Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) and the Estonian Student Satellite Foundation. The next two Estonian satellites will travel to space in July and September of this year.
"The student satellite projects are important for inspiring the young people of Estonia to study the field of engineering science and ensure that there is young talent in the Estonian technology sector. We will keep our fingers crossed for the 'Koit and Hamarik' that will be launched to orbit already this summer," Kingo said.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications is currently preparing the Estonian space program for the years 2020-2027. The aim of the program is to enable the development of tech-based entrepreneurship in Estonia, thereby also increase the export of goods and services, and develop education and research.