Spain and Portugal will jointly carry out an ambitious space project: 16 satellites will collect data from the ocean, coastal areas, and forests of the Iberian Peninsula. The data should contribute to the fight against climate change.
In the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation recently signed in Cáceres, the two countries agreed to carry out the project together. Atlantic Constellation, as the project is called, complements the European Copernicus Earth Observation Program of the European Commission and the European Space Agency.
Non-European countries are also interested
Furthermore, the 16 observation satellites will, among other things, monitor biodiversity on the Iberian Peninsula. They will also collect advanced data on the effects of natural disasters. This has been announced by director Miguel Bello of the Atlantic International Research Center (AIR Centre), initiator of the project. Other countries bordering the Atlantic are also free to join the project. So far, South Africa, Nigeria and Mexico have already expressed an interest in participating in the project.
Green and digital transition
The satellites are expected to become operational in late 2024 or early 2025. The preparations for the project are being financed with money from the Next Generation recovery fund, which is intended for innovation and the green and digital transition. The technical development is carried out by specialists from Spain and Portugal.
However, it is not yet clear how the financing of the project will progress when the satellites are launched. This can be done either with public funds or with a public-private partnership to which interested investors can subscribe. It is estimated that this involves an amount of around €60 million.
The Spanish satellite companies Hispasat and Hisdesat and the Portuguese Geosat hope to implement the project. It is led by the Spanish Centre for Technical and Industrial Development (CDTI) and the Portuguese Space Agency (PT Space). The coordination is in the hands of the AIR Centre.
The treaty between Spain and Portugal also includes other major joint projects in the context of the green and digital transition. This includes a plan for electric driving and further sustainable energy development.