Spain has officially launched its own national space agency, at a time when Europe is looking to establish itself as a global leader in the space industry.
Plans for the Spanish Space Agency, or Agencia Espacial Española (AEE), were first announced in May 2021 and finally got the political thumbs up last month.
The agency will be located in Seville, near the Arenosillo launch facility in Huelva, which was built in the 1960s as part of a collaboration between the Spanish government and NASA. Initially, about 75 employees will be stationed on the site.
The agency will serve to “guarantee Spain’s strategic action in the field of space, both from the point of view of technological development and the use of space in areas such as security, Earth observation, geolocation and telecommunications,” according to a statement. rack of 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 droughts or fires,” the statement continued.
mMinister for Science and Innovation, Diana Morant, the new office has an initial budget of more than €700 million in 2023.
The minister has also made €45 million available to finance the development of a domestic microlauncher. This class of launch vehicles, Morant said, is “the commercial future of the space industry.”
Currently the most likely contender to receive the funding PLD space. Founded in 2011, the Spanish startup has developed a suborbital microlauncher, dubbed Miura 1, which will be capable of delivering commercial payloads to space and back. It’s set to launch as early as 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 spacetech ecosystem. As of 2019 12% of total 400+ investors in the global private space industry – dubbed ‘new space’ – were based in Spain.
In addition to frontrunners PLD Space, there are also startups based in Barcelona to keep an eye on Zero 2 Infinitywho has developed one balloon launcher, based in Madrid iena GO, a software supplier for the aerospace industry and based in Bilbao SATLANTISwhich is under development AI-enabled payloads for microsatellites.
The launch of the Spanish space agency is undoubtedly a great boost for these startups and the space industry in the country as a whole. while Europe tries to catch up with the US, Russia and China in the global space race.