The New Space revolution echoes all around the globe. Pioneering and emerging countries regarding New Space are striving for the development of competitive space programs and forging country-wide incubation networks. And Spain is not far behind.
The Spanish New Space Ecosystem
Spain is an active player in the space industry since the early phases of the sector. It is a founding member of the European Space Agency, being its 5th greatest contributor, and has a very strong and competitive space industry. In the last few years, young entrepreneurs have been venturing into New Space businesses, crossing frontiers. The most visionary minds are creating technologies that will make space commercially affordable and accessible.
This is the case of Aistech Space, a geospatial intelligence company. They aim to bring light to organizations providing a new vision of the Earth by helping democratize access to space knowledge and providing added value to companies, organizations, and administrations. Aistech Space deployed their own satellite constellation with the successful launch and commissioning of their first satellite in 2018.
Another promising startup in the Spain’s space industry is Celestia Aerospace, a company devoted to the opening of space access to SMEs, research groups, and developing countries through the use of nanosatellites.
Karten Space uses remote sensing techniques, deep learning and artificial intelligence to turn satellite imagery into value-added business outcomes to support industrial companies in their management and decision-making processes. Currently they are working to improve the data value chain by developing their own nanosatellites for Earth observation.
Pangea Aerospace is developing disruptive technologies in the aerospace sector. They are the creators of Meso rocket, a reusable microlauncher for the growing microsatellite market that will provide cost-effective access to space.
Zero 2 Infinity, a space transportation company that is simplifying access to space by leveraging lighter than air (LTA) technology to float above most of the atmosphere. It is the only private company in Europe elevating payloads to the edge of space using high altitude balloons. It also is working on a small satellite launcher, Bloostar, and a project for space tourism, Bloon. You can read more about Zero 2 Infinity in Astropreneurs’ interview with his CEO, Jose Mariano Lopez-Urdiales.
Alén Space offers the opportunity to put your business into orbit through affordable nanosatellite constellations, designing, consulting, manufacturing, and operating them. Applications range from IoT to tracking systems to Earth observation.
And last but not least, Rokobun provides accurate and scalable navigation solutions based on GNSS. Applications include location-based services, autonomous automobiles, precision farming and UAV geolocation, among others.
Spanish Startup Success Stories
PLD Space is developing launcher technologies to provide suborbital and orbital commercial launch services, dedicated to small payloads and small satellites. During last year PLD has signed several agreements: with the National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA) for the launch of MIURA 1 from the “El Arenosillo” Experimentation Center in 2019; with RUAG Space regarding the supply of lightweight carbon composite structures for small launch vehicles; and with Airborne Systems North America for the development of launcher recovery. PLD Space has also privately developed the first European liquid rocket engine for small and reusable launcher. The launch of MIURA 1 will pave the way for a larger still-under-development rocket named MIURA 5, an orbital launch vehicle capable of placing into orbit payloads up to 300 kg in a 500 km sun synchronous orbit. This past few months the drop test campaign of MIURA 5 has successfully been completed. You can read more about PLD in Astropreneurs’ interview with CEO, Raúl Torres.
A Quick Overview of Spain’s “Old Space”
Besides all these arising New Space enterprises, Spain has a long record on the space sector. One of the well-known multinationals based in Spain is Airbus, who carries out work for most of the European space programs, for example, the Ariane 5 and Ariane 6 commercial launch vehicles, the Copernicus Earth observation platforms, and the Galileo satellite navigation constellation. It also hosts contracts with other space exploration programs such as ESA’s CHEOPS.
SENER mostly offers electromechanical systems and components, orientable antennas, GNC/AOCS systems, microgravity, and life support systems. SENER has a strong background in optical and instrumental systems (i.e. telescopes) for astronomy.
Other large space companies like Deimos Space take part in a vast variety of space projects: building satellites for a further exploration of the solar system, developing GNSS technologies and end-to-end solutions for Earth observation missions, GNC/AOCS subsystems for launchers and sky surveillance for NEOs, satellites, space debris, and space weather. GMV mainly provides products, services, and solutions for areas such as mission analysis and GNC systems, automatics and robotics, satellite navigation systems, and ground segment and data processing. GTD develops systems and software for ground segment and embedded software and avionics for satellites and launchers.
This is just the beginning. We hope to hear further news regarding Spain’s space industry in the upcoming years.
Posted by Oscar Lafuente Arjona