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Portugal’s Atlantic Constellation

Portugal’s Atlantic Constellation -
Portugal’s Atlantic Constellation - Portugal Business News

Portugal just announced an MOU with Spain for the implementation of an Atlantic Constellation. A new Space Age is dawning, with Portugal investing heavily in the final frontier so that the next generation of Space Unicorns may reach new heights.

The Portugal Space Agency estimates that the financial return from the Space Industry will increase ten-fold to reach EUR 400 million. The Portuguese Aeronautics, Space and Defence sector includes more than 100 entities and is experiencing exponential growth. The sector employs over 18,500 professionals and has a turnover of EUR 1.7 billion, of which 87% is from exports.

Portugal’s minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education just announced that Portugal Space is at a turning point in its history, following the signing of an MOU with Spain for launching the joint Atlantic Constellation. Very soon, Portugal will launch into space a constellation of satellites for the observation of the Earth and oceans. The aim is to provide monitoring that will help to prevent fires, to manage water resources and to monitor traffic.

Portugal Ventures has highlighted the investment opportunities linked to space, providing examples such as the agreement just signed with the ESA Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs) that are part of the largest network of space incubators in Europe. Another agreement was signed with Spotlite, that is located in Coimbra. The company provides an infrastructure monitoring system based on satellite imagery to provide analytics for risk-management.

Global Space Unicorns have obtained massive amounts of investment in fields such as satellite manufacturing and launching, space tourism, satellite broadband and asteroid mining. Angel investors and Venture Capital funds are now investing more and more in space technology.

The Portuguese government is using resources from the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) to support development projects as well as education in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The Web Summit provided a platform for the government to have an impact on entrepreneurship in the space sector. Space and AI can provide responses to major challenges such as climate change, while innovation is the driving force behind tech developments and business opportunities.

According to Morgan Stanley, the Global Space Economy could generate revenue of more than $ 1 trillion by 2040. In the near-term, the sector will have an impact on IT hardware and telecommunications, namely for broadband access. The firm has projected that satellite broadband will represent between 50% to 70% of growth in the global Space Economy by 2040, thus driving down costs.

The cost of access to Space is decreasing, with reusable rockets and the mass production of satellites set to drive down costs. The cost to launch a satellite went from $ 200 million to $ 60 million and may even drop to $ 5 million due to the advent of reusable rockets. Portuguese rocketry will benefit from this thriving business. Many business opportunities are yet to be explored, such as the delivery of packages using rocket services. Rockets may also be used to send mining equipment to extract minerals from asteroids.

While the US now has a Space Force, Russia and China are pouring investments into the Space sector. The EU programme Horizon Europe is funding research and innovation to the tune of EUR 95.5 billion and is focused on an Open Science policy. The Horizon Europe programme has a budget of EUR 48.1 million to invest in Space projects.

There is an ongoing Call for Proposals to be submitted by March 2023 for companies that have research proposals or innovative projects in the Space sector. Proposals are to be sent to the European Union Space Programme Agency (EUSPA). The Agency will invest in projects that provide applications for the European Global Navigation Satellite System (EGNSS) for smart mobility as well as for AI applications using Copernicus and GOVSATCOM data.

Under the Horizon Europe 2021 funding, Portugal was able to obtain a total funding of EUR 875,000, thus strengthening Portugal’s global ranking in a strategic sector such as Space. Global challenges and industrial competitivity are issues that are included under the Digital, Industrial and Space cluster. This project is in line with Portugal’s National Strategy for Space 2030 that will be implemented by the Portugal Space Agency.

The Atlantic Constellation of satellites is a flagship project developed by the Atlantic International Research Centre (AIR Centre) in collaboration with Mexico, the UK, Spain, Nigeria, South Africa, Norway, Egypt, Brazil and Canada. This will lead to the development of innovative applications for the Ocean, Earth, Climate and Atmosphere under Portugal’s 2030 Space Strategy which includes the Azores International Satellite Launch Programme.

In the private sector, GEOSAT is the first Portuguese operator of observation satellites and is now a major EU operator. The company invested EUR 20 million for high-resolution satellite imagery. GEOSAT will allow Portugal to accelerate the transition towards a Space Industry as part of a value chain linked to the Atlantic Constellation. The Atlantic Constellation will comprise 16 small optical Earth observation satellites that will be placed in orbit by 2025.

Portugal has a complete space ecosystem that is contributing to its economic growth with space-based and space-enabled services. A new generation of space-based services is expected to be developed under the EU programme.

The Azores, Portugal’s autonomous region in the Atlantic, is a geostrategic asset for developments in the Space sector and has a high-growth potential. The location is used for developing a spaceport and a New Space Economy with a close collaboration between companies, universities and research institutes. This collaboration resulted in the development of a number of high-tech products for projects such as the Alphasat mission, which benefited from Multilayer Insulation (MLI) developed in Portugal. This MLI was also used for the entry module of the ExoMars mission to Mars.

The Atlantic Constellation of satellites will soon be forming a pattern in the skies that will be followed by the next generation of Space Unicorns.

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