portugal space // our mission
Portugal Space is a private, non-profit organisation, created by the Portuguese Government, in March 2019, as the most modern space agency in the world.
The founding members of Portugal Space are the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), the National Innovation Agency (ANI), the Ministry of Defence and the Regional Government of the Azores. In December 2019, the Autonomous Region of Madeira joined the Agency as an observer, intending to become a full member in the near future.
The Agency’s primary purpose is to promote and strengthen Space in Portugal, its ecosystem and value chain, for the benefit of society and economy in the country and worldwide. Portugal Space acts as a business and development unit for universities, research entities and companies, as stated in the Portugal Space 2030 Strategy, approved in 2018.
The National Space Agency coordinates the Portuguese participation in the European Space Agency (ESA) and advises the Portuguese government on the contributions and subscriptions made to ESA. Working together with FCT, Portugal Space manages ESA and ESO funds and represents Portugal in these international organisations in addition to serving Portugal in the newly created Board of Directors of the European Solar Telescope (EST). Portugal Space is also the national representative for Portugal to the European Commission for matters related to Space, namely the European Union Space Programme (Copernicus, Galileo, GOVSATCOM, SSA) and Horizon Europe and has a seat in the Board of the GSA (future EUSPA).
According to its statutes, the Portuguese Space Agency is mandated to establish a division to serve defence, safety and security needs working for and with the Ministry of Defence to address the requirements of all branches of the defence.
Space Strategy and Major Programmes
The national space strategy, Portugal Space 2030 – A research, innovation and growth strategy for Portugal, sets new targets for the development of the sector.
The strategy works towards the vision for Portugal – as an Atlantic nation, with a rich and global maritime tradition – to be recognised as a worldwide authority in the science and economics of Space-Earth-Climate-Oceans interactions for the benefit of society and economy.
It states that Space must be considered as a common good, to be associated with our institutions and collective ambitions. Space provides the infrastructure for personal mobility, communication for work, weather forecasting, precision farming to maximise crop harvesting, banking transactions, management of precious resources such as potable water, monitoring of forest fires, archaeological investigations, scientific knowledge and the dream of expanding the reach of humanity.
The Portugal Space 2030 Strategy recognises that many sectors can profit from space-based solutions, such as agriculture, fisheries, infrastructure, urban development, transportation, maritime, shipping, tourism, banking, defence and security, and even the public health sector and epidemic monitoring, amongst others.
It is in this context that Portugal talks about and advocates for the Democratisation of Space, meaning the full integration of Space into the economy and society in a sustainable manner, both environmentally as well as economically, and therefore a growth of the sector beyond public sector funding on which it has mostly relied thus far.
The Portugal Space 2030 strategy defines Strategic Objectives and Strategic Axes.
- To promote economic growth and the creation of skilled jobs in Portugal by supporting space-related markets, namely through market uptake and exploitation of satellite data and signals addressing societal challenges and crossing multiple activity sectors, including in agriculture, fisheries, in monitoring infrastructures, in urban development, in defence and home security, and the public health sector;
- Foster the generation of satellite data through new space technologies and space-related infrastructures in Portugal, leveraging international scientific and technological cooperation and turning Portugal into a more influential player in the space sector, with emphasis on new space industries (i.e., “New Space“).
- Contribute to the development of the country and the strengthening of diplomatic relations and international scientific cooperation, taking into account the advantages of Portugal’s geo-strategic position for the Space sector, and also to share the return of space activities with countries that have not yet developed capacities in the space domain, with emphasis on Portuguese-speaking countries;
- Ensure the development and evolution of the legal, financial, institutional, cultural/educational internationalisation frameworks capable of boosting the development of the Space sector in Portugal through national initiatives and international cooperation for the next decade.
(to be implemented in close cooperation with ESA, the EC and other relevant international partners)
- Boosting the exploitation of space data and signals through space-based services and applications, promoting new markets and highly skilled jobs in a diversity of areas;
- Fostering the development, construction and operation of space equipment, systems, infrastructure and Space data generation services, with an emphasis on mini, micro and nanosatellites, but also opening up new areas of intervention in Portugal for launcher services, including and extending existing satellite monitoring and tracking and Earth Observation activities;
- Continuing to build national capacity and skills, through scientific research, innovation and education and scientific culture, allowing the long-term sustainability of infrastructures, services and space applications.
At the end of 2019, in view and preparation of the ESA Ministerial Council Space19+, Portugal has set the target of attracting 2.500 million Euros for 2020-2030 with a 50/50 balance between public and private sectors, including national and European, public and private sources in space-related activities in Portugal.
This target considers increasing the overall level of investment in Space in Portugal by a factor of 10, including the following main challenges:
- Increase the annual outcome of Space related activities in Portugal to about 500 million Euros by 2030;
- Create and promote about one thousand skilled jobs in Portugal in the period 2020-2030;
- Attract major players to operate in Portugal and support new entrepreneurial projects to help develop new high-added-value activities;
- Strengthen space research in close cooperation among academia, scientists, the public administration and, above all, the business sector, together with the development of new skills and the advanced training of qualified human resources.
The implementation plan, prepared in view of the ESA Ministerial Council Space19+ and reaching to other frameworks, defines a focus on Earth Observation, Space Safety, Space Transportation, and Telecommunications, including related downstream activities for each field.
The Portuguese budget for space activities related to ESA, ESO, EUMETSAT and other entities has increased over the past 20 years, reaching over 28,4 million Euro in 2019. This value is complemented by financing of R&D national activities and the active participation of Portuguese Entities in European Commission programmes such as Copernicus, Galileo or H2020.
Portugal has also established links with NASA and leading American universities, mainly through projects in cooperation with Portuguese space companies and universities, as well as through a protocol for hosting Portuguese students to complete traineeships at NASA premises and establishing dedicated university programmes in Portugal in collaboration with the American universities.
The implementation of the ESA tracking station in the Santa Maria Island (Azores Archipelago) has set an important milestone in Portugal’s role in the Atlantic, and the country is also assessing the development of a spaceport for small launchers in the Azores.