Sławosz Uznański may become second Pole to go into space next year
Sławosz Uznański may set out on a European Space Agency (ESA) mission in August 2024, becoming Poland's second astronaut to fly into space after Mirosław Hermaszewski, Waldemar Buda, the development and technology minister, has said.
On August 4, 2023, Buda signed an agreement on a Polish astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS) with the European Space Agency (ESA) and Axiom Space (a US company operating in the space industry).
He said at the time that "An amazing story is being written before our eyes," and announced that Poland would submit the candidature of Uznanski for the space mission.
On Saturday, during a special 'space picnic' event for youth in the central city of Łódź, Buda said: "We hope that in November this year, the ESA will make an official decision on the mission of Polish astronaut Sławosz Uznański, who may fly into space as early as August 2024."
According to him, Uznański's mission "seems to be a done deal."
"We do not have a 'plan B.' We have presented Sławosz as our candidate; he is our best man who can fly into space," Buda added.
Uznański, who attended the Saturday event, told PAP that the date of the flight was not yet determined.
"We will have to wait for that. This is a discussion with international partners and there is no official date at the moment," he said.
"I can't wait," Uznański added. "I would like to be well prepared for this flight.
"What I feel is great respect for this rocket, for the energy stored there that carries the astronauts into orbit. There is certainly some concern, but there is also a lot of excitement on my part," he said.
Uznański (39), is a Polish scientist and astronaut, holds a PhD in electronics and works at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN). He was selected by ESA for its Astronaut Reserve Corps after he managed to beat 22,000 candidates from all over Europe in the preliminaries, which lasted a year and a half.
If the mission goes ahead, Uznanski will become only the second Pole in space after the late Mirosław Hermaszewski, who took part in an eight-day Soviet space mission in 1978.
In 2023, Poland increased its financial contribution to the ESA by EUR 295 million. Owing to this, more Polish companies will be able to participate in many development programmes in the field of satellite communication, navigation and Earth observation.