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Reply to Jurnalul Național

on 30 December 2012

Romanian Space Agency's response to the article which appeared in the Jurnalul National journal, the online edition, on 23 December 2012,  “Cum şi-a omorât România primul satelit, construit la preţuri astronomice. Explicaţiile halucinante ale Şefului Agenţiei Spaţiale Române (ROSA)” ( "How has Romania killed its first satellite, built with astronomical prices. Hallucinatory explanations of the head of the Romanian Space Agency (ROSA)", signed by Robert Veress.

The Romanian Space Agency (ROSA) is very concerned regarding the article published in the Jurnalul National -“Cum şi-a omorât România primul satelit, construit la preţuri astronomice. Explicaţiile halucinante ale şefului Agenţiei Spaţiale Române (ROSA)” (23 December 2012) - which provided wrong or incomplete information which are misleading the public in a serious and unacceptable manner, causing extensive damage to the reputation of the Romanian Romanian Space Agency and to the Romanian research field.

ROSA wishes to state that the journalist Robert Veress, who signed this article, wasn't presented at the interview. Announcing just 1:30 'before, through a text message that he can not be present, Robert Veress sent a colleague who said he did not know the spatial domain. ROSA is concerned of this unprofessional approach which, which we believe, contributed to the publication of erroneous and misunderstood information.

The Romanian Space Agency therefore wishes to Provide clarification on the incorrect and defamatory statements are GMT Published in the Jurnalul Naţional:

1. "On 13 February 2012, at 1:12 p.m. GMT, it was released on Earth's orbit Goliath, the first Romanian satellite - Romanian, as far as the components and kit purchased out of the country and put together hence a Romanian satellite "

The claim that Goliath is not an Romanian satellite is incorrect and defamatory. The satellite was designed and assembled by a team composed entirely of Romanian researchers. There were materials and components purchased from suppliers, both Romanian and foreign, but the uniqueness and originality of a project such as Goliath is not in producing the bolts, but in the assembly and integration of a system that engages the bolts in a specific process .

We say about an Apple product that is American even if its components are made in China because the whole is more than the sum of its parts, as Aristotle said. To believe that to achieve their own satellite, the Romanian researchers would have to create themselves each component is a technological absurdity, especially financial. Reducing things in a simplistic manner, it is as if we ask a person who invents a new recipe to build an oven, to extract gas, to cultivate wheat etc. The evolution of humanity is due in large part precisely to our ability to store and share knowledge from one individual to another, from one generation to another.

2. "In fact, Goliath was not a satellite in true sense. It was a common picosatelit "

Goliath is a CubeSat nanosatellite, and this is neither common nor shameful. Nanosateliţii emerged as technology evolved and enabled to create smaller components and less expensive, so more people can realize / use it - just as the emergence of the tablet is considered an advance of technology compared to desktop type computers.

3. "(...) Goliath mission was a total failure."

The success of a mission is defined in relation to its objectives. The main objective of the Goliath mission was training a team of researchers to acquire the expertise needed to create professional satellites and later the Romanian researchers' familiarity with the demanding procedures of ESA. From this point of view, the Goliath mission has carried out the primary objective.

ROSA explained in detail the main objective of the mission in the interview.

In terms of scientific experiments, ROSA has provided the following information:

Goliat project began before ESA launched the competition for students. Goliath was designed from the start as a professional satellite reduced to the scale of a nanosatellite.

In parallel with the development of VEGA rocket, ESA has selected in a competition nine CubeSat satellites as payload aboard the first flight of the rocket. Selecting the Goliath satellite was a major additional benefit of the project. The team had to meet specific standards to be accepted by ESA for launch. The benefit to main purpose of the mission also came with a disadvantage for the secondary objectives - the scientific ones.

The Goliat satellite, just like most of the CubeSat satellites, was designed to operate in low orbit (300-700 km). Following repeated orbitchanges imposed by the launcher, it eventually reached the final orbit to be one elliptical with the perigee at 350 km and apogee at 1450 km, altitude much higher than that for which the Goliath satellite was designed. Due to increased levels of radiation, satellite's subsystems have failed prematurely, preventing the generation of data from scientific experiments on board.

Although we all wished the satellite to achieve also scientific experiments, we should not forget that the main objective of the mission was accomplished. Goliath has contributed to the development of ground stations and allowed the formation of a team that is now involved in a QB50 professional space mission, involving specialists from the most renowned institutions and space organizations.

4. “Fiind, practic, un satelit-jucărie, şi costurile trebuia să fie pe măsură. Costul unui picosatelit din categoria Cubesat, cum a fost şi Goliat, pornesc de la circa 30.000 de euro şi arareori sar de 100.000 de dolari. Însă, pe noi, distracţia asta ne-a costat cel puţin 1,5 milioane lei - 330.000 de euro.”
4 "Being basically a toy-satellite, the costs also should have been like this. The cost of a Cubesat category picosatelit, as Goliath, starts at about 30,000 euros and rarely jump $ 100,000. But this fun cost us at least 1.5 million lei - 330,000 euros. "

The Romanian Space Agency (ROSA), and we are sure that either the European Space Agency (ESA) are not playing. Goliath was a complex satellite tested in Romania, and at ESA headquarters in France and the Netherlands, and approved to fly with the European VEGA rocket in its inaugural flight. Acceptance of a satellite on board is done only if the satellite meets all the conditions of ESA, in order not to endanger other satellites in orbit. Goliath was chosen for the VEGA launch in an European competition, along with other nine satellites from a total of 24 candidates.

The numbers published on the costs of nanosatellites induce into a serious error. A satellite costs between 30,000 and 100,000 euros only if it takes into account only the cost of the physical components of the satellite. The cost of 1.5 million lei of Goliath include: the development of two ground stations to communicate with the satellite, stations which were not existing previously in Romania and which are run now in other research projects, the physical components of the satellite, labor, overhead tests performed.

5. "We say "at least" because those who spent money shy away from the final bill. And 1.5 million was just the initial budget. "

The final report detailing the project costs was submitted to the National Authority for Scientific Research (ANCS), the donor. ANCS budget of the project was and remained to the end 1.5 million lei.

6."Theoretically, ROSA is a self-funded state institution, but for Goliath, the Agency sought and received generous amount of money from the National Authority for Scientific Research - NASR"

ROSA is a self-funded state institution, one of the sources of income being the research projects. To finance Goliath, ROSA participated with other institutions from Romania in a national competition organized by ANCS, where there were 1334 eligible projects. (http://www.mct-excelenta.ro/fileadmin/mct/Rezultate/modulul_1/eligibilile_modulul_I_final.pdf). Following the competition, Goliath project was among the 488 winning projects which have received such funding. (http://www.mct-excelenta.ro/fileadmin/mct/Rezultate/liste_finantate.htm)

7. "Goliath was only one of the seven satellites which built under the supervision of the state, with money from the state. All other six satellites were exclusively student projects made ​​by students coordinated by university professors, with private funding and sponsorship. "

Goliath was not the only satellite made ​​with involvement from the state. The other satellites were not created only by private financing:

The Hungarian satellite was conducted with financial support from the government, and the Hungarian Space Office http://cubesat.bme.hu/en/tamogatoink/

The Polish satellite was developed in cooperation with the Polish space agency represented by the Space Research Center of Polish Academy of Science: http://www.pw-sat.pl/

The French satellite was conducted in collaboration with the French space agency (CNES): http: //www.cnes-jeunes.fr/web/CNES-Jeunes-fr/9332-robust-Premier-tests-en-vol.php and http : //smsc.cnes.fr/ROBUSTA/Fr/index.htm Features section.

The Spanish satellite was conducted in collaboration with the National Institute for Aerospace Technology (INTA) http://www.xatcobeo.com/cms/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2&Itemid=3

It is true and important to note that the Goliath satellite was not a university student project. It was an educational project designed to train the Romanian researchers and industry for such projects. Goliath was designed as a professional satellite, whose systems were more complex, especially that they had been integrated into a nanosatellite. .

8. "(...) in an interview that would have to be between four eyes, but we were waited by a team of former students, collaborators on the project, which let them alone in the room to answer questions . "

Nor the journalist Robert Veress nor his colleague who replaced him 1h30 'minutes before the interview did not explicitly requested an exclusive interview with Mr. Marius-Ioan Piso. Moreover, Robert Veress was not present at the interview "that would have to be alone." The interview lasted 52 minutes, Mr. Marius-Ioan Piso arriving at 6:00 minutes because of a previous meeting.

9. "The statement of Mr. Piso is false and also insulting to the other six student teams that made picosatelites. "

The conclusion and judgment of the journalist come from a limited understanding. Mr. Marius-Ioan Piso wished to point out that Goliath was not a student project, but a professional satellite with educational purposes. As a result, the complexity of the system was at its higher although the satellites may have sometimes similar use .

10. "What I wanted to hear from the head ROSA"

ROSA wishes to emphasize that the 13 questions published were not fully included in the interview. For example, questions 7 and 11 were not addressed as such.

11. "The American spends about $ 200 per family member for space. Europeans contribute with about 15 euros. "

The following information was omitted from the statement: a Romanian citizen will spend in 2013 on space 1 euro per family member.

12. "Has Romania has killed its first satellite"

Romania has not "killed" its satellite. Romania launched a satellite into orbit on a mission designed to generate professional expertise to conduct the creation of satellites - goal achieved.

Romania is known as one of the countries with aerospace tradition. Throughout history there were noted personalities such as Conrad Haas, Aurel Vlaicu, Traian Vuia, Henri Coanda, Hermann Oberth, Elie Carafoli. The aviation industry includes production based on their own and licensed projectsof over 20 types of transport aircraft, helicopters, passanger courier medium-and light aircraft. Romania has contributed to over 30 scientific and technological space missions, including the mission of the first Romanian astronaut in 1981. We have experience in the field of space applications: since 1977 it is operational the Cheia Intelsat station with two antennas with a diameter of 32 m.

Romanian collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) has a long history. In 1992, Romania was one of the first Eastern European country to sign a cooperation agreement with ESA in the peaceful uses of outer space, followed by a Framework Agreement with ESA in 2006. Romania contributed by co-investigators to multiple ESA missions such as Hershel, Planck, SOHO and Gaia. From 2012 the Romanian flag is raised at European Space Agency (ESA) headquarters, after on 22 December 2011 Romania officially became the 19th ESA Member State. After Romania's accession to ESA, the Romanian researchers, especially the Romanian industry has the opportunity to participate in ESA missions. But the participation requires an alignment to extremely tough standards, which we can learn only through projects such as Goliath, making small steps but extremely valuable. Only by taking risks and going beyond our comfort zone we willlearn in a faster rhytm and we can become competitive at the European level in an industry of the future, an industry that generates technological innovation, a profitable industry that can increase a country's economy and improve living standards.

Of the seven satellites launched on VEGA, including a satellite about 10 times higher than Goliath (Almas-1), three are operational (XatCubeo, MaSat-1, PW-Sat). The fact that Goliath did not accomplished its scientific experiments on board was and remains a weak point. But this does not diminish the fact that Goliath fulfilled the primary mission. Because of Goliath we have two ground stations and a team which, by the expertise gained, has already been selected in a space mission in collaboration with specialists from the most renowned institutions and space organizations, mission composed of 50 professionals satellites, two of which will be made in Romania.