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Guest column by Vesselin Vassilev, CASTRA

Picture of Vesselin Vassilev

Vesselin Vassilev

CASTRA Cluster for AeroSpace Technologies, Research and Applications / CEO


The Aerospace sector nowadays is certainly a hot technology and business area offering the amazing figure of over 400% return on investment in a typical 5-year horizon. Aerospace is exciting, inspiring and profitable even under slow economic growth conditions. European citizens are enthusiastic about space exploration and are willing to support increased EU investment in space R&D, infrastructure and services, as shown by the European Commission’s Eurobarometer survey series.

The aerospace sector nowadays offers an inexhaustible number of opportunities for achieving excellent R&D and business results.

The Aerospace field is also becoming less and less dependant on government resources, and is an area in which more SMEs and academic organizations actively and independently contribute as key drivers, not only in basic science and technology R&D, but also in the development of long-term policies, capacity and emerging business niches. Aerospace expertise today is also largely distributed among various players, thus the bottom-up approach of structuring and executing academic, public and commercial activities is highly feasible and provides competitive advantage for old and new players. The number of startups active in the areas of UAVs, space technology and applications is constantly increasing and driving the ‘new space’ ecosystem, gradually changing the game in the sector.

The Bulgaria-based Cluster for AeroSpace Technologies, Research and Applications (CASTRA) is one of the new independent aerospace organizations in southeast Europe aiming to find ways to consolidate the national expertise and capacity in the sector, to bring together academic R&D experience and new SME energy, innovation and business efficiency, and to integrate all this into the rapidly evolving European space sector.

Bulgaria has had solid achievements in the past, being the 18th space nation launching nationally-developed satellite payloads, implementing two national human space flight science programs within the former East European INTERCOSMOS programme, and also becoming the third country after the US and Russia to offer cosmonaut food technology and products and a variety of novel space systems, e.g. the first space greenhouse, the first complex system for cosmonaut bio-medical process monitoring in flight conditions (telemedicine) and others. Relying at present on the strong rapid development of national capacity and expertise in industry sectors such as ICT, mechatronics, embedded systems, high-speed mobile satcoms, composite materials, propulsion and also full system integration and applications (UAV, small satellite platforms), CASTRA is acting as a strong player in the SME-driven aerospace sector. We currently develop technologies and business programs in the area of long-range, high altitude, high payload UAV systems, small satellite data communication, small satellite sub-systems and payload development, small satellite launch systems and related activities.

Bulgarians and other nations have a saying that goes:“united we are stronger!” We believe that the aerospace sector nowadays offers an inexhaustible number of opportunities for achieving excellent R&D and business results for all those who are joining forces for a faster and more competitive execution of challenging projects. Let’s do it together!


Vesselin Vassilev, PhD (Eng.)
Cluster for AeroSpace Technologies, Research and Applications – CASTRA



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