Elvira Fortunato, the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, was speaking in the auditorium of the National Civil Engineering Laboratory (LNEC), in Lisbon, at the ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the launch of the first Portuguese satellite, PoSAT-1, envisioning Portugal as “a space nation by the end of the decade”.
According to the government official, capabilities are being developed and reinforced in Santa Maria to enable the installation of “space access infrastructures through a spaceport”, the initiation of suborbital flights and the promotion of technologies for monitoring traffic and space debris.
“We hope it will be a reality at the end of this year,” she indicated.
Portugal, according to Elvira Fortunato, is committed to creating an industrial agenda for the design, integration and operation of satellites.
“As a result of this agenda, [it is anticipated] the launch and operationalisation of 30 satellites in various constellations for new territorial monitoring services, whether terrestrial or maritime”, she highlighted.
Recalling the Portuguese contribution of 115 million euros to the budget of the European Space Agency (ESA), Elvira Fortunato explained that this amount allows for the reinforcement and Portuguese presence “in major space initiatives in Europe (…), with an industrial return of 100% ”.
In addition to strengthening the infrastructure of the Santa Maria Technological and Space Center, the minister pointed to the formation of a GeoHub, through the Portuguese Space Agency, in order to develop “a policy of national Earth observation data in high and very high resolution”.
Elvira Fortunato also highlighted the “satellite constellation concept” with Spain and the Atlantic constellation, a Portuguese initiative that “other countries will soon join”.
“Right now, there is no possible excuse, because we have the infrastructure, we have all the conditions, we have budgets, to show what we are capable of, something we didn't have 30 years ago. These initiatives, with these investments and the focus on higher education, are fundamental to structuring our ambition and our position in the space sector”, she added.