Spain wants to enable use of space for nanosatellites

by Lorraine Williamson

MADRID – Spain aims to become the European destination of choice for the aerospace industry. This is in order to capture pending investments in satellites. Moreover, the nanosatellites sector expects to realise a turnover of €950,000 million within 20 years.

The Spanish government wants to enable the use of space for satellites and provide the necessary radio spectrum for this type of telecommunications. As such, Spain aims to become a new reference point for companies interested in space travel. Similar to Houston and Cape Canaveral in the United States. 

Spain as a data hub 

“One of the national recovery plan objectives is to boost cross-border digital infrastructures and turn Spain into a data hub,” said Roberto Sánchez, Secretary of State for Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation in the newspaper El Economista. This also includes satellite infrastructures for which a new sector has been set up, the so-called “NewSpace”. 


NewSpace is an umbrella term for a global industry of private companies and entrepreneurs that target the commercial market for innovative products or services developed in or for space. Therefore, space companies such as SpaceX, Virgin Orbit, Rocket Lab are seen as NewSpace companies. 

Rise of nanosatellites 

Furthermore, the satellite sector continues to develop at a rapid pace. And new technologies make it possible to build smaller satellites that are more flexible and cheaper than traditional ones. New Nanosatellites, the size of a milk carton, can be launched faster and placed in low orbits relative to Earth. Therefore, this new generation of small satellites can be used for, among others, earth observation, space research, internet and communication. 

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According to State Secretariat of Digitization sources, the nanosatellite sector achieved a turnover of more than €319 million in 2020. And, furthermore, a turnover of around €950,000 million is expected over the next twenty years. 

“More and more Spanish companies want to be part of this emerging sector”, which is considered to be “highly innovative with enormous potential to contribute to sustainable growth and the creation of high-quality jobs”. 

Increase in satellites in space 

“At the end of 2020, there were about 3,372 satellites in orbit around the Earth. Of these, 1,819 were used specifically for communications,” emphasises Secretary of State Sánchez in a Spanish opinion article titled “The New Frontier of Telecommunications: Outer Space.” In the coming years, however, “we can expect an explosion of equipment in space, introducing swarms of small satellites in low orbits against the large and expensive traditional satellites in geostationary orbits far from Earth”. 

Europe lags behind 

Currently, however, the United States, China, and Russia are ahead of the rest of the world in developing new satellites. Moreover, Europe does not yet have an answer to this. Only Luxembourg is opening its doors wide to ambitious entrepreneurs with unique legislation on the use of raw materials from space. 

Digital Europe 2023 

However, Europe is not standing still. In March this year, the European Commission presented the Digital Compass 2030: the European approach for the digital decade. This plan sets out the vision and strategy for Europe’s digital transformation up to 2030. One of the spearheads is to strengthen Europe’s digital autonomy with a communication infrastructure via satellites that allows data to be sent safely and quickly, says Sánchez. 

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