Space Period

1950s–1980s – Lithuanian scientists and engineers widely participated in Soviet space and military industry programmes.
Lithuanian astronomers resumed activity at the Astronomical Observatory of Vilnius University and actively participated in the satellite observation programme (1957–1964). 1969 – the Molėtai Astronomical Observatory was founded (main instrument—165 cm reflector). The main field of astrophysical research in Lithuania is the study of the Galaxy by employing multicolour stellar photometry. Based on this experience, astrometric and photometric stellar data bases for the orientation systems of Soviet spacecraft were produced.

Lithuanian aviators continued their traditions mostly in the field of aviation sport. 1969 – the Lithuanian Federation of Aviation Sport founded a sports aviation plant, which grew into Sport Aircraft, Ltd. (1995). Lithuanian glider pilots were among the best in the former Soviet Union.The latest LAK-20T glider meets the highest standards of the gliding industry, and it is constructed by incorporating modern composite materials and protruded carbon rods.

The Institute of Botany studied plant physiology in zero gravity conditions. Lithuanian scientists designed micro-greenhouse and controlled gravity devices which were used on the Soviet orbital stations Salyut and Mir and on unmanned satellites.
The Lithuanian Energy Institute took part in the development of a nuclear reactor for spacecraft and investigated materials at high temperature and supersonic speed. The Institute of Biochemistry developed biosensors for life support and bio-waste recovery systems. Biosensors for the detection of more than 20 biologically active compounds in fluids and air were designed. Both institutes participated in the Soviet space programme Mars.
An imaging quantum-counting detector for space applications was developed at the Institute of Physics. The Institute of Semiconductor Physics designed sensors to measure high power microwave pulses for space communication systems. The Faculty of Physics of Vilnius University developed ultraviolet and infrared sensitive detectors for space applications; photo-detector arrays were used for the tests of the robot vision system of Lunokhod (the Soviet lunar rover).
1980s – Lithuanians contributed to the Soviet space shuttle (Buran) programme. The Lithuanian Textile Institute developed technology for the heat insulation panels for the shuttle and designed working suits and underwear for cosmonauts. Kaunas University of Technology designed an ultrasonic flow-meter for the Energy-Buran programme.
1990s – Lithuanian scientists and engineers lost direct access to Russian hi-tech space and military programmes. However, the expertise that had been gained was used in numerous NATO and European R&D programmes, which helped to develop further the R&D and technological industries, making them suitable for participation in the European space programme.fotobig213fotobig211