Monday, 15 July 2024
"Spain needs to increase its investment in the space industry in order to promote, develop and reach new levels of technological autonomy”

THE SPACE SECTOR is today experiencing a clear dichotomy if we consider its relative economic significance, since it makes up for a minimal fraction of the world’s economic activity (at ~0.5%), while its impact on the media, and at a functional level, is significantly higher, since everyday life is strongly dependent on those space infrastructures.

Everything points to this contrast waning in the next few decades.

Why? The answer seems straightforward: space activities are progressively rubbing off on most sectors of human activities. Just to name a few, its influence is present in communications, transportation, logistics, precise time measurement (UTC) to synchronize financial sector and service company services; land management, including all related activities such as agriculture, mining, forestry; sea and air traffic... this year we are also seeing tourism and, in the near future, mining activities in space.

Additionally, companies are being created that offer maintenance services to satellite operators space “plumbers” of sorts; others are implementing infrastructures for use by third parties in testing systems and mechanisms (space docking, etc.); or which temporarily occupy orbital positions (tenants, if you will), to meet regulatory requirements.

Not to mention Defense and Security, where we are seeing the creation of Space branches in the Armed Forces of many countries (United States, China, Russia, France, etc.) which will boost even more the activities of this industry. Spain has announced the creation of the Spanish Space Agency, largely debated in the sector and ultimately announced as part of the 2021 National Security Strategy framework.

Furthermore, this century will bear witness to the uninterrupted presence of our species outside of our planet,which is already a given seen as how the ISS has been continuously inhabited since 2021. This is without mentioning the Chinese space station becoming operational, the construction of operating infrastructures related to the moon (Artemis, Chang’e, etc.) and the race to establish a human presence on Mars.

To sum up, we could say that the transformation is extraordinarily profound, and that this expansion will accelerate during the upcoming years with the emergence of new financial instruments for investments discerning opportunities in this industry.

Spain’s position

The Spanish space sector is closely linked to the direction Europe is heading with its flagship programs (Galileo, Copernicus, SSA, GOVSATCOM), scientists and ESA’s activities, and it must maintain that involvement with growing levels of investment until it reaches, at least, the equivalent of its relative economic weight.

This is, regardless of Spain with or without a national agency needing national programs to focus on the development of technological niches for its national space sector,which should be aimed at fostering and attaining a certain degree of technological sovereignty. Spain has this possibility in several segments, developing cutting-edge, competitive technology and an appropriate industrial capacity, which would allow it to grow in the global market. Programs such as SEOSAT-2 and the allocation of EU NextGen to the space sector are opportunities to foster this development.

During the last few years a number of SMEs have been created in this sector, which evidence a territorial capillarity that Spain needs to secure technological high-value resources distributed across the country. The calls for expression of interest by the MINCOTUR in January, 2021, have served as a zero-cost study for the administration, and were extremely valuable as an analysis of the country’s industrial capabilities that show that capillarity.

Spain needs to increase its investment in the space industry in order to promote, develop and reach new levels of technological autonomy in specific segments, just like our neighbors have been doing for decades through their agencies (ASI, DLR, CNES, etc.) to boost those capabilities and stay up to par with Europe.

As stakeholders in this process, at SATLANTIS we are working toward that goal and look forward to the implementation of those national programs that make the road easier to attain that autonomy and industrial capabilities, which in our case is related to the design and construction of very high resolution optical payloads for nanosatellites.


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