During the “Space in Law and Politics. Law and Politics in Space” conference, organized at the Polish Ministry of Higher Education and Science, president of the Polish Space Agency, professor Marek Banaszkiewicz, has presented the assumptions pertaining to the national Polish space programme. A new element, which has been presented by the representative of the Polish Space Agency, is seen in an innovative sounding rocket concept, with the rocket being launched from a howitzer. This project constitutes a result of the recent negotiations of the Poles with the representatives of the Ukrainian State Space Agency and the Ukrainian industry as well.
According to the assumptions, the Polish-Ukrainian research rocket, once it is launched with the use of a howitzer, and once it reaches the ceiling of 12 kilometres, would switch on a rocket engine for a duration of ca. 20 seconds, which, in a consequence, would allow the vehicle to move its payload to an altitude between 60 and 75 kilometres. The project is very demanding within the technological dimension, since on the very moment of launch, the payload would be exposed to g-load equivalent to 10 thousand Gs. However, on the other hand, this forms an occasion to create new, reliable systems which, in the future, could be applied also in other areas.
The sounding rocket presented by professor Banaszkiewicz is expected to have a length of 150 centimetres. The flight duration is to be close to 30 minutes, however the data from the sensors and cameras mounted on-board will be gathered for only a few minutes. Weight of the systems is not to exceed 3 kilograms. According to the President of the Polish Space Agency, the system may be widely applied, e.g. in the area of monitoring the crude oil spills. The Instruments used in case of the sounding rocket are expected to be reusable, thanks to the applied parachute recovery system.
Relatively limited cost of the project has been defined as one of the advantages of the initiative, which would require the Poles to provide a financial support in an amount of ca. PLN 10 million. We have not been informed as to what howitzer shall be used as a platform for the Polish-Ukrainian sounding rocket. Most probably, 152 mm Ukrainian howitzers, or Polish 155 Krab mm howitzer could be employed as a launching platform. The Ukrainians also proposed to create a rocket which would be much larger, being launched from a howitzer of a calibre exceeding 200 millimetres, which could make it possible to carry the load up to the altitude of 160 kilometres.
The Ukrainians are also interested in creating, in collaboration with Poland, a launch vehicle which would be capable of placing up to 250 kilograms of payload in the Earth’s orbit. Such project would require more assets to be involved, couple or several times more, in comparison with the concept of a sounding rocket launched from a howitzer, as discussed by the President of the Polish Space Agency. Thus, implementation of this type of initiative is less probable.