According to the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Elvira Fortunato: “There is an investment that is calculated within the scope of the various programs that will be financed through the investment that the [Portuguese] State made in ESA and that ESA will reinvest here in Santa Maria. We have already foreseen an investment of four million in this teleport”.
The minister stressed that the agreement between Portugal and the ESA for the operation of the European station was extended for another five years.
“We agreed to invest 115 million euros over the next five years, which was the largest investment that the Portuguese State has ever made in ESA. The Azores are a key player in this area”, she reinforced.
On November 23, it was announced that the European Space Agency's budget for the next three to five years totals around 17 billion euros, with Portugal contributing 0.68% of the funds (almost 115 million euros).
The President of the Government of the Azores (PSD/CDS-PP/PPM), José Manuel Bolieiro, praised the maintenance of the ESA station in Santa Maria and considered that the region is on a “good path” to reach the “goal” of having a space port on the island.
“We are dealing with the future based on installed capacity to create synergies between the Government of the Azores, the Government of the Republic and the local authority to boost investment. The extension of the contract with ESA is already a great sign, but we are preparing a real space ecosystem for the Azores”, he stressed.
The president of PT Space, Ricardo Conde, reiterated Santa Maria's potential to host hypersonic flights and launch suborbital flights.
“We are working institutionally and in terms of commercial opportunities to make Santa Maria an orbital access point in space. It is these processes that take time”, added Conde.
On December 19, 2022, the coordinator of the Azores Mission Structure for Space (EMA-Espaço) said that the Santa Maria Space Technological Center, which will receive the 'Space Rider' landing, will start up in the first half of 2023.
The 'Space Rider' will be launched from Kourou (French Guiana) in 2024, aboard a Veja rocket, and will spend two months in an equatorial low earth orbit.