Czech Republic first from Soviet bloc to join Europe's space agency
The Czech Republic paved the way Tuesday to become the first former Soviet-backed Warsaw Pact state to join the European Space Agency (ESA), which focuses on space science and exploration, reported dpa.
Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and ESA's head, Jean-Jacques Dordain, signed an agreement Tuesday under which the Czech Republic is to join the 17-member agency on January 1, 2009.
The accession treaty requires approval by the country's bicameral parliament.
The intergovernmental agency was established in 1975 and has researched the planets Venus and Mars as well as developing navigation and telecommunication systems.
The Czech Republic has been involved in the agency's programmes for over a decade and hopes that membership in the agency would increase its chances to host the headquarters for Galileo, Europe's planned satellite navigation system.