Hungary is clearly keen on space technology with more than 17 500 visitors passing through the doors of the European Space Expo in Budapest at the end of March. The free exhibition featuring Europe’s Galileo, EGNOS and Copernicus programmes was a big hit with Hungarian citizens of all ages during its first excursion into eastern Europe!
Many of Budapest’s citizens took the opportunity to visit the European Space Expo (ESE). The high-tech travelling exhibition visited the Hungarian capital from 20 to 25 March.
The exhibition was located in the centre of Budapest on one of the Hungarian capital’s most famous open spaces: Erzsébet tér.
The exhibition was opened on the morning of Wednesday 20 March. Dr. Tamás Szűcs, Head of the EU Representation in Hungary, thanked the Hungarian Ministry of National Development and everyone who had helped to organise this successful first visit of the European Space Exhibition to the eastern part of Europe.
He emphasised the European Commission view of ‘Space’ as an enabler to build a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy in the EU. “It is an instrument to serve the needs of our citizens and our policies,” he said. “Space is a service before being a technology.”
These views were echoed by Mr Vilmos Lucza from the Hungarian Ministry of National Development that oversees the work of the Hungarian Space Office and its programme of space activities.
Hungary’s involvement in space exploration was underlined by the presence of cosmonaut Bertalan Farkas who flew on a Soyuz mission in 1980. He was a big hit with school students at the opening ceremony and encouraged them to get more interested in space and the exhibition, emphasising that Hungary can be proud of its recognition as an important player in space related matters.
The ESE visit coincided with the General Assembly of the Council of European Geodetic Surveyors (CLGE) in Budapest and CLGE was a co-organiser of the exhibition.
CLGE President Jean-Yves Pirlot underlined the importance of space technologies – in particular EGNOS and Galileo - in the day to day business of his members. “With Galileo the availability of the system will increase, the precision and accuracy will become better and problems due to tree canopies and ‘urban canyons’ will diminish,” he stated. “This is a great achievement.”
He announced that on the Day of the European Surveyor and GeoInformation (22 March) Galileo Galilei would be named Surveyor of the Year to honour the achievements of the man himself and also the European Commission programme. A reception to celebrate the day was held at ESE on the evening of 22 March.
The opening ceremony was completed by Marie Ménard, GSA, who outlined the programme for exhibition and presented its many features.
The free exhibition has already been a big hit in seven European cities with its ‘hands on’ approach to demonstrating space technologies and their benefits. And, of course, the critical role of the European Union in space and space-based technologies is highlighted with Galileo, EGNOS and the Copernicus programmes taking starring roles. All the exhibits in the Space expo in Budapest are explained in both Hungarian and English.
As well as displaying a dozen exciting interactive touchscreen-based exhibits that encourage visitors to discover what space brings to their daily lives, the Space exhibition featured a comprehensive series of short presentations each day given by local space experts.
Aimed at the general public, these short talks offered insights on space technology now and in the future in a down to Earth manner. In Budapest topics ranged from Hungarian space equipment – such as Hungary’s first satellite the Masat-1 launched in February 2012 - to space biology and the exploration of Mars.
“The talks are really popular,” said Marie Menard. “And we have well over 45 schools pre-booked for visits to the exhibition and anticipate many more arriving. In addition on Friday we have arranged for a special session with sign interpretation for deaf students.”
Why not catch the Space Expo at a city near you? The European Space Expo will be touring across Europe visiting over 20 cities in two years.
The next port of call will be the German city of Hannover where the big benefits of space technologies will be extolled from 8 to 12 April. The exhibition then moves on to Warsaw from 4 to 9 May.
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