More than twenty Spanish companies and entities have joined forces to design, manufacture and launch a constellation of 30 Earth observation satellites; an unprecedented R&D&I project that will involve an investment of 147 million euros and will enable the digitisation of multiple strategic sectors, as well as obtaining key data for environmental monitoring and ecological transition.
Open Cosmos, the company that operates satellite missions from start to finish, is leading this national and transversal project that includes companies from the entire value chain of the space sector – from satellite design to data management or specific applications for the end user – and which has been presented to the Ministry of Industry, within the framework of the Programme for the Promotion of Industrial Competitiveness and Sustainability projects that will be financed with European recovery funds.
The consortium brings together 23 actors – large entities, SMEs and research centers – leading the development of space technologies and applications in our country, including, in addition to Open Cosmos, others of the stature of Sener, the Instituto Astrofísico de Canarias, the space cluster of the Community of Madrid, IEEC, i2CAT and ICGC.
This space initiative thus stands as a revulsive for the economy, as it will promote a new industrial fabric exporting 100 percent Spanish technology, which is expected to generate 10% more quality jobs in the space sector and a turnover of more than 500 million euros by 2026.
The ultimate goal of this constellation of more than 30 earth observation satellites, the first phase of which is expected to begin operating in less than two years, will be to build digital models to address the main challenges facing Spain in terms of sustainability, digitisation and optimisation of multiple economic sectors with frequent data of high scientific value.
The satellites will include novel propulsion systems, a generation of observation cameras with integrated Artificial Intelligence, a high bandwidth communications system or the integration of applications with terrestrial and satellite Internet of Things (IoT) services, among other elements.
In addition, a data platform will be deployed in the cloud where, through advanced processing techniques supported by artificial intelligence, it will be possible to analyze the environment for effective decision-making, allowing direct applications in agriculture, civil and environmental protection, alternative energies, infrastructure management, prevention and detection of natural disasters, etc. In this way, they will monitor the environment or the impact of the human footprint from space, contributing to the fulfillment of the European digitalization and environmental objectives detailed in the European Green Deal.
Strong commitment to New Space in Spain
With this project, Open Cosmos reinforces its firm commitment to Spain, where it has doubled its workforce in recent years, as well as incorporating and repatriating top-level talent. In addition, it is positioned as a promoter of New Space in our country, a booming sector called to play an important role in the recovery due to its ability to drive the economy and employment.
Open Cosmos, founded by the Mallorcan Rafel Jordá, has a great track record in the space sector that accelerated in 2017 with the launch of its first satellite and consolidated with its leadership in space missions with the British Space Agency (UKSA) or the European Space Agency (ESA), which have funded some of its most important projects. Thus, in 2017 it was selected by ESA as Europe’s first nanosatellite Space Mission Provider under the Pioneer program. In addition, in 2019 it was designated to develop the Mantis Earth observation satellite, a mission whose applications focus on monitoring and regulating oil and gas extraction, as well as monitoring mining and its impact to ensure an efficient and sustainable energy transition.
According to Carlos Fernández de la Pena, vice president of data and satellite services at Open Cosmos, “this project aligns almost an entire industrial sector, the so-called New Space or Space 4.0. This is an environment that is very rich in knowledge, but faces the difficulty of having it very fragmented in SMEs and research centerrs; without a doubt, an ambitious objective and a clear boost would place the consortium at the forefront of technology and the market. This is a project that brings together top-level talent and technology, and which will attract international investment, create highly qualified jobs and increase the sector’s export capacity”.
Open Cosmos is a space company that operates end-to-end satellite missions. It offers a comprehensive service that addresses the entire value chain of the space sector, encompassing the design, manufacture, mission management and launch of customized satellites for companies, institutions and governments worldwide. These satellites are primarily used to do three things: icollect critical Earth data for economic, environmental or security decisions; provide telecommunications services on a global scale; or develop space science and technology.