Of the 244 applicants, only eight are in the running to become the next Hungarian astronaut, with the number to be narrowed down to four by the end of the year. The winner will be chosen in the weeks before the mission in late 2024 or early 2025, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in Paris on Tuesday.
The minister stressed at a meeting of the European Space Agency ministerial council that Hungary has announced its largest ever space program, worth about $100 million, the aims of which is to send a Hungarian astronaut into space again.
As part of the Hungarian astronaut program called HUNOR, he said,
a Hungarian astronaut will take part in a 30-day research mission to the International Space Station in late 2024 or early 2025, in cooperation with US company Axiom Space Inc.
“This is an important step forward for the Hungarian industry, which has a high added value and R&D content,” he highlighted.
Szijjártó said that an agreement was signed with the European Space Agency on Tuesday, under which Hungarian small and medium-sized enterprises will receive around four billion forints (EUR 9.8 million) over five years to develop the technological background for major European projects.
He added that although Hungary is not one of the largest countries,
more than 140 Hungarian instruments have been launched into space in recent decades, and all of them have completed their missions.
The minister stressed the dual importance of the peaceful use of space: on the one hand, in the current times of crisis, high value-added sectors with advanced technologies play a major role in economic recovery, and space is clearly one of them. On the other hand, he said, access to space is also a sovereignty issue.
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