Spanish vision to guide ground surveillance from space

If there is an industry in which collaborative projects are commonplace and allow the highest challenges to be met, it is aerospace.

Spanish vision to guide ground surveillance from space

If there is an industry in which collaborative projects are commonplace and allow the highest challenges to be met, it is aerospace. A movement of interterritorial business synergies in which Spanish companies seek to consolidate a growing role. A recent example is the Nemos (Novel Earth and Maritime Observations Satellite) project, in which nine European companies (from SMEs to giants such as Thales) from five countries participate, and which is coordinated by the Spanish firm Satlantis.

Framed within the framework of the European Defense Industrial Development Program (EDIDP), the main objective of this collaborative project is to design a small satellite mission for Earth observation. It is planned to be launched into orbit through a mini-launcher that will combine small optical satellites in LEO orbit, capable of taking images in the visible and infrared spectrum, with very high resolution (for example, to monitor coastlines, port areas or other infrastructure critics).

Beyond the security and defense of the territory, this initiative will allow, thanks to its data collection, greater industrial autonomy and competitiveness.

It is not the first European project in which Satlantis has a leading role. This Basque company has already led Optisse, another EDIDP maritime surveillance project from space. And it was also an active part of Copernicus, the ambitious ESA (European Aerospace Agency) project designed to provide accurate, up-to-date and easily accessible information to improve environmental management and guarantee citizen security.

The Basque firm, an international reference in Earth observation technologies through ultra-high-resolution optical cameras, has seen its internationalization plans reinforced with the entry into its capital of CDTI (through its joint venture instrument Innvierte), from Enagás Emprende, Sepi, Orza, Williams, BP Energy Partners, Encap, Axis-Ico, etc.

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Meanwhile, the company continues to take steps forward. It has recently launched the Urdaneta-Armsat1 minisatellite (it took off from Cape Canaveral on May 25). It is his third space mission, with his first optical satellite to capture high-resolution images for agricultural and environmental planning and civil protection. "We are at 50% of the commissioning of a mission that will last four years (says its CEO, Juan Tomás Hernani), with attention to extreme temperatures and in the process of calibrating and placing cameras."

Satlantis is an example of an inalienable union, science and technology, which must have public support, not only through direct subsidies, as Hernani points out, but also through the creation of competitive environments for private initiative: «A culture of buy versus subsidize, to activate business development, the set of companies that compete and bill, and hire. In Spain we are prepared: we are competitive in the 'new space' in Europe". In his case, Satlantis began with scant funding (for example, from the Vizcaya Provincial Council and the Basque government) and a lot of effort to currently gain investor confidence.

In this sector of the new economy, Hernani highlights how sustainability can also be profitable: «Environmental activity must be monetized, as a boost to regulate the activity of observing gas emissions, contaminated soil, plastics in the sea, etc. . This will form part of a new economy, around a cycle of service necessary for society. We are, for example, at a good time to relate the observation with the promotion of biogas and not depend on countries like Algeria or Russia».