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Atlantic International Satellite launch Programme

The Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT) and the Estrutura da Missão dos Açores para o Espaço (EMA-Space) are inviting qualified entities worldwide to express their interest to collaborate with Portuguese enterprises and research laboratories to design, install, and operate a spaceport on the Island of Santa Maria, in the Azores, in association with the development and operation of a new generation of satellite launch services to space. This initiative is launched with the technical support of the European Space Agency, ESA.

The initiative’s presentation will take place in a “Breaking News Event” on the 2nd of October, 11 a.m., during the International Congress of Astronautics, IAC 2018 in Bremen, Expressions of interest are accepted until the end of October 2018.

The objective of this International Call for Interest is to encourage and invite enterprises and public organizations from around the world to provide low-cost, frequent and regular access to space for small satellites as a way to boost the utilization of space for the benefit of humanity. The immediate goal is to start sustainable small-satellite launch services from Santa Maria, Azores, in 2021. The development of a spaceport in the Atlantic, extending existing satellite and launcher monitoring and tracking capabilities, will open a new generation of launch services and space activities based on small satellites for the benefit of society at large. It benefits from the unique location of the Azores in the Atlantic and its centrality in relation to Europe, the Americas, and Africa.

These developments are to be considered under the overall effort associated with the increased competition and growing international initiatives for the New Space commercial sector. They also reflect the need to accelerate safety and security initiatives involving the use of micro, mini and small satellites. The overall concept should address the full end-to-end value chain by being associated with the emerging expansion of Earth observation activities to application areas, which may range from agriculture and fisheries, to infrastructure monitoring, urban development, safety and security, amongst others, together with the growth of New Space entrepreneurship worldwide.

The Atlantic International Satellite Launch Programme is based on a 3 phase process. The monitoring of the international market, that starts now, aims to attract foreign direct investment to support the dynamization of the space sector in Portugal. This process will be carried out on the basis of an Upper Level International Commission, with national and foreign experts, coordinated by Jean Jacques Dordain, former director-general of ESA, and including, amongst others, Dava Newman (co-director of the MIT-Portugal Program and former assistant administrator of NASA) and Brian Tapley (founder of the Center for Space Studies of the University of Texas at Austin).