16th of November, 2018
The Portuguese subsidiary of Elecnor Deimos, Deimos Engenharia, presented the final report of a study about the feasibility of launching small satellites in the Azores (Malbusca, Santa Maria) to the European Space Agency (ESA).
This study was awarded by ESA in competition to a consortium led by Elecnor Deimos, in which the British company Orbex also participates and with which Elecnor Deimos has recently signed a strategic agreement.
The launchers under study are able to take up to 200 Kg to a 500 km altitude orbit. Given their small size – less than 20 m long – they can be operated from simpler infrastructures, having a greater operating flexibility and a lower impact on the launch zone, all together with competitive prices.
The study concludes that it is both technically and financially viable to operate a micro-launcher service from Malbusca, using small, safe and clean vehicles. The Azores Spaceport provides access to the most commercially attractive orbits for these satellites, also offering advantages in the air and maritime traffic management and has better climate conditions with respect to other possible locations in Europe. Furthermore, it meets the security conditions necessary for critical operations.
This spaceport makes Portugal one of the eight privileged countries in the world to have access to space, as it has its spaceport in EU at less than 1500 km from the continental Europe, while Kourou, the current ESA launch center, is 7000 km away from Paris, in the French Guiana.
“Europe will soon have small launchers to continue competing with the USA and China” said Nuno Ávila CEO of Elecnor Deimos in Portugal. He then continues, adding that “these launchers require a launch base in Europe, which is something that every country wants given the sovereignty it implies to have access to space. In relation to this, Portugal has an ideal geography for this type of activity.”