The signing ceremony of the charter of the Portuguese space agency was held today in Ponta Delgada, with the Minister of Science valuing this “step for the future” in the European space strategy.
“It is also possible in Portugal to use space to create employment. Our ambition is to multiply business tenfold in the space sector in Portugal, certainly valuing scientific knowledge, entrepreneurship, and the knowledge that is generated and produced in our research centres, universities and polytechnics, “said Minister Manuel Heitor.
The governor, flanked by the president of the Government of the Azores, Vasco Cordeiro, spoke at the Santana Palace in Ponta Delgada, after signing the deed of the constitution of the agency Portugal Space, which will have headquarters in the Azorean island of Santa Maria.
For Manuel Heitor, this is a step “also with meaning in Europe“, which guarantees “greater ambition” to Portugal in this area.
The chief of the Azorean government, Vasco Cordeiro, said there was a “political significance” in this process, with the “political option of the Government of the Republic” to constitute the space agency to be praised by the government.
“In this new area of knowledge and economy“, space, the “geography” of the Azores “bases and legitimizes” the region as a “vanguard presence” in the sector, said Vasco Cordeiro.
On the other hand, there is also a “practical meaning” in the space agency, this being the moment of the “beginning“.
“This is not a point of arrival, of conclusion. From here a lot of work begins, a process of creation of new areas of development for our region and our country, based on knowledge and with a very high potential for the creation qualified employment and wealth, “stressed Vasco Cordeiro.
The terms for the constitution of Portugal Space were recently approved in the Council of Ministers and are established in a resolution authorizing the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), where the Space Office works, to associate with the National Agency of Innovation, to an entity of the area of National Defense and to another responsibility of the Autonomous Region of the Azores, with the collaboration of the European Space Agency (ESA).
The Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor, had already mentioned that Portugal Space would move forward later this month with the approval of its statutes and the appointment of its director, who will be a foreigner.
The Portuguese space agency will have its headquarters in Santa Maria, where a microsatellite launch base will be built, as well as facilities in Lisbon and elsewhere in the country.
According to the official, the state will invest between 500,000 euros and 1 million euros through the FCT to guarantee the agency’s “start-up and operating costs”, including the hiring of ten specialized technicians, and that the goal will be ” attract European and corporate funding “to support the operation of Portugal Space.
On the island of Santa Maria will be built the already announced spaceport for launching microsatellites.
It is expected that, according to the timetable set, the first small satellite launches will begin in the spring or summer of 2021, after the contract for the installation and operation of the base will be signed in June 2019 with the consortia ‘winners’.
The Portuguese space agency, which will be in charge of coordinating, in conjunction with the Regional Government of the Azores, the launching of small satellites, is one of the pillars of the national strategy for the space sector – “Portugal Space 2030“.