The Spanish space industry is following with great anticipation the work of the Space Council set up on July 11 and chaired by the Commissioner of Aerospace PERTE, Miguel Bellóthe person most responsible for setting up the bases that must support and elevate the Spanish Space Agency.
Pending the second Board meeting to be held at the end of September, the leading companies in the ecosystem are maintaining the course set in their business planswhile remaining attentive to opportunities in national and global markets.
International competition is intensifying every minute, business expectations are changing and merger attempts between operators are on the agenda. Faced with such uncertainty, the current main players in the global space sector “could not be the same in two years”warned David Wajsgras, CEO of Intelsat, on the occasion of the World Satellite Business Week (WSBW 2022), which has just ended in Paris, in front of more than 400 senior executives of the sector.
The debates and conferences in the capital of the Seine were attended by the CEO of Hispasat, Miguel Ángel Panduro, who on September 14 received the award for excellence in satellite communications in the category of regional space operators. The jury recognized the Spanish company as “one of the largest regional satellite service providers, providing internet and content in Spanish mainly in the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America, and operating a large fleet”.
Panduro rushed back to Madrid to be present on the afternoon of September 15 at the 30th anniversary celebration the launch of the first Spanish commercial and military communications satellite. Named Hispasat 1A, it was launched into space from French Guiana aboard an Ariane 4 launcher on September 11, 1992, the year of the 5th centenary of the discovery of America, the Barcelona Olympics and the Universal Exhibition of Seville.
The next Hispasat will take off in January
The Spanish delegation that attended the inaugural launch was led by the then Prince of Asturias, the current King Felipe VIaccompanied by the Minister for Public Works, Transport and Communications, Josep Borrell, now Vice-President of the European Commission and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
In his speech to veteran engineer Pedro Pintó – Hispasat’s program director 30 years ago – and to many of those who overcame the odds to place Hispasat 1A at the 30º West orbital position, Borrell emphasized that “Today’s world is largely built on satellite communications”.
He recalled that Spain has established with Hispasat 1A “a bridge with Latin America that we did not have until now” and warned that “the challenge now is whether or not Europe will be a relevant player in space”. Our security and our defense “will depend on the domination of space”, he concluded.
Third European operator, Hispasat has already deployed a total of 15 satellites in space, nine of which are still in service. With Red Eléctrica as the majority shareholder since October 2019, the next platform “is already in the oven”, said the corporation’s president, former housing minister Beatriz Corredor. This is Amazonas Nexus, which Miguel Angel Panduro planned to “will take off next January”. He will do so from Cape Canaveral aboard a Falcon 9 launcher from billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX company.
The 4.5-tonne electric-powered vehicle, manufactured in Cannes (France) by Thales Alenia Space with broad participation from national industryAmazonas Nexus will occupy the orbital position 61º West, will replace Amazonas 2 -launched in October 2009-, will cover the American continent and Greenland and will increase the offer of Hispasat in Ku band intended for the growing demand of air and maritime transport.
In search of quantum communications
Incorporating a state-of-the-art Digital Processor (DTP) gives the new device the flexibility to adapt to changing market conditions, which is why “the U.S. Department of Defense has subscribed to his services”, confirms Hispasat. Another important contract won by Amazonas Nexus was signed with Tele Greenland, the national communications company of Greenland.
The Spanish satellite will provide broadband transmissions and internet via satellite to all remote towns and villages in the north and east of this huge island located between the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, but belonging to Denmark, with a population of less than 60,000.
Recognized by the entire Spanish industry as the driving force of the national sector, Hispasat is aware that space is a contested field and has already taken action. It supports the initiative of the European commissioner for the internal market, the Frenchman Thierry Bretonaiming to build a solid architecture for secure communications and participates in studies aimed at realizing a future European constellation of sovereign and autonomous satellites, with all guarantees of confidentiality.
That is why he leads a group of Spanish companies and organizations that have been selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to carry out the feasibility phase of Caramuel. This is the first space mission that will be positioned 36,000 kilometers above the Earth’s surface to distribute quantum keys. Il is based on a high-precision telescope equipped with a photon source capable of delivering photons to the groundone of the technologies that will save communications in the near future.
The ESA and the European Union intend to develop Caramuel as a shield against hackers equipped with quantum computers. It is a question of preserving the secrecy of the civil and military government communications, of the nerve centers which control the critical infrastructures and of the information circuits of the large industrial companies.
The companies that are part of the team led by Hispasat are Alter Technology, Santander and BBVA banks, Cellnex, Das Photonics, GMV, Indra, Quside, Sener Aeroespacial, Tecnobit, Telefónica and Thales Alenia España. They are joined by institutions such as the National Christological Center, CSIC, Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Instituto de Ciencias Fotónicas, INTA, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and Universidad de Vigo.