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Space port in the Azores to launch microsatellites? Open competition

The Government of Portugal and the Government of the Azores presented today a competition open to organizations from all over the world for the creation of a space port on the island of Santa Maria that allows the launching of microsatellites.

The announcement was made today in Ponta Delgada by the Regional Secretary for the Sea, Science and Technology of the Government of the Azores, Gui Menezes, who highlighted the goal of creating in the Azores “an infrastructure for launching microsatellites.”

The international consultation, which runs until October 31, aims to “analyze the interest of this project with international partners, in the sense of being installed on the island of Santa Maria an Atlantic space port,” said the official.

The Azores, according to Gui Menezes, have “some competitive advantage” over other territories for the installation of a spaceport.

“We are further south, in the middle of the Atlantic, we have the possibility that the direction of the launches are much more open, without obstacles, and this is not replicable in other places in Europe,” he said.

The competition is launched by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) and has the technical support of the European Space Agency (ESA).

The Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education also said in a statement that the initiative “will stimulate a new response to the increasing demand for the use of small satellites for diverse purposes”, including telecommunications and Internet-based forms of space, but also Earth observation applications, including agriculture and fisheries, infrastructure monitoring or urban development and security.

The potential development of a space port in the Atlantic “aims to stimulate a new generation of space activities based on small satellites.”

The goal is to “expand existing Santa Maria Island monitoring and tracking facilities and open up a new generation of launcher services and space activities based on small satellites for the benefit of society at large”

The new microsatellite launches in this “unique location” in the Atlantic should start as early as 2021.

In Ponta Delgada, the largest city in the Azores, 400 people will gather this week for the international symposium “25 years of progress in Radar Altimetry” organized by the European Space Agency and the French Space Agency.

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