Spain has officially launched its own national space agency at a time when Europe is trying to establish itself as a global leader in the space industry.
Plans for the Spanish space agency, or Agencia Espacial Española (AEE), first announced in May 2021, finally received the political thumbs-up last month.
The agency will be based in Seville, near the Arenosillo launch site in Huelva, built in the 1960s as part of a collaboration between the Spanish government and NASA. Initially around 75 employees will be stationed at the site.
The agency will serve to “guarantee Spain’s strategic actions in the space field, both in terms of its technological development and the use of space in areas such as security, earth observation, geolocation and telecommunications”, according to a opinion by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.
“Space is a priority and strategic area, essential to help and protect our society in areas as diverse as cybersecurity, navigation, the fight against climate change or monitoring phenomena such as drought or fires,” the statement continued .
MThe Minister for Science and Innovation, Diana Morant, has allocated an initial budget of more than €700 million in 2023.
The minister did the same €45 million is available to fund the development of a domestic microstarter. This class of launch vehicle, Morant said, is “the commercial future of the space sector.”
Currently the most likely contender for funding PLD space. established in 2011, the Spanish startup has developed a suborbital micro launcher, dubbed Miura 1, which will be capable of launching commercial payloads to and from space. It is scheduled to start later this month.
Spain has a long history in the space industry. It is one of the founding members of the European Space Agency (ESA) and has a thriving space technology ecosystem. As of 2019, 12% of the total over 400 investors in the global private space industry – referred to as “New Space” – were based in Spain.
In addition to the front runner PLD Space, start-ups from Barcelona can be observed Zero 2 infinitywho developed one Balloon launcher based in Madrid ienai GO, a software provider for the space industry based in Bilbao SATLANTISwhich develops AI-enabled payloads for microsatellites.
The launch of the Spanish Space Agency is undoubtedly a huge boost for these startups and the country’s space industry as a whole, and it’s coming while Europe tries to catch up with the US, Russia and China in the global space race.
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