The year 2022 has started off on the right foot for Spanish space companies, which have begun the new financial year by winning major contracts and reaching important agreements with companies on other continents.
This is the case of Elecnor Deimos Space, a technology company with its headquarters in Tres Cantos (Madrid), offices in Valladolid, Puertollano and Malaga and subsidiaries in Italy, Portugal, United Kingdom and Romania, which has just entered South Africa through Dragonfly Aerospace, the leading manufacturer of space observation cameras in Africa.
The principle agreement between the two companies, which will become effective in the spring, stipulates that Deimos will supply its Insight4EO intelligent image processing software to Dragonfly's compact cameras, enabling on-board processing of captured data and images.
The first to receive the Insight4EO software will be the Chameleon hyperspectral camera. In a second stage, the Gecko, Mantis and Caiman cameras and then the three instruments that Dragonfly is developing at its new factory in the Stellenbosch Technology Park, located some 50 kilometres from Cape Town, the capital of South Africa.
The southern African country has a small but growing export-oriented space industry. The cooperation through the integration of Elecnor Deimos' Insight4EO processor with Dragonfly's cameras on the same space platform will "make it easier for our customers to make decisions in real time", agree Bryan Dean and Ismael Lopez, the heads of the two companies.
On 8 February, SENER Aerospace and the Australian launch services company Gilmour Space agreed to join forces and work together on the Autonomous Flight Termination System (AFTS) for Eris, a micro-launcher that the Australian company is developing.
This system is considered to be "very critical", and SENER's responsibility is to develop the algorithms of an intelligent software that collects and analyses the flight parameters, identifies deviations from the programmed trajectory and, in the event of serious anomalies, automatically sends the order to abort the rocket's ascent. The commitment is to have a first prototype tested and certified by the end of 2022.
The AFTS once again brings to light the expansion of SENER Aerospace's field of activities under the leadership of José Julián Echevarría and Diego Rodríguez. One example is the cooperation agreement with the German company Rocket Factory Augsburg, which will put the E.T. Pack demonstrator into orbit. Pack demonstrator to prevent the build-up of space debris. It consists of an electrodynamic device that reorients satellites and rocket final stages back to earth once they have completed their operational period, causing them to re-enter the atmosphere and burn in the upper layers.
With subsidiaries in 10 countries in Europe, Asia and South America, GMV has won three major competitive tenders within the European Union. The most recent is for the fleet of second- and third-generation Meteosat satellites (MSG and MTG), located in geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometres above the Earth. On the basis of its sstod software already used by the space surveillance centres of Spain, Poland and Romania, GMV is going to analyse, process and determine the position and manoeuvres to be carried out by the aforementioned Meteosats to avoid collisions and extend their lifetime.
The other two contracts were won just a few weeks ago. One is with the Spanish Centre for Technological and Industrial Development (CDTI) and consists of implementing the new COPLA planning software, which is to assign cosmos observation tasks to the entire European network of optical sensors. Another is with the German Aerospace Agency (DLR) to develop, validate and integrate the algorithms required to process the data that make up the catalogue of objects in orbit under the responsibility of the UEDEM Space Surveillance Centre.
Both projects are related to the European Union's Space Surveillance and Tracking System or EU SST, formed by the sensor network of the space agencies of Germany (DLR), France (CNES), Italy (ASI) and Spain's CDTI, later joined by the agencies of Poland, Portugal, Romania and the United Kingdom.
In another field of activity, Sateliot, an emerging 5G satellite communications operator based in Barcelona, is working on the Internet of Things (IoT). The company has raised €10 million in a capital increase to obtain funding to merge the IoT universe with 5G mobile phone networks under a single standard.
Among the Spanish companies that have placed their trust in the project is Indra, owned by SEPI, which is contributing around 10.5% of the capital and will provide IoT solutions aimed at the defence and aerospace sectors, fields in which Sateliot wants to position itself. The curious thing is that Sateliot is the company that put the nanosatellite Enxaneta, launched into space in March 2021, into the hands of the Catalan government's space agency.
Sateliot's aim is to place a constellation of nanosatellites in orbit at an altitude of 550 kilometres to communicate directly with IoT devices. The company's CEO, Jaime Sanpera, is facing a big challenge. In May 2021, he said that by 2025 it would have "100 satellites in orbit", a number already authorised by the International Telecommunications Union. At the moment it has only one platform in space, owned by the Autonomous Government of Catalonia, and the second is on the same path.
Thales Alenia Space España, located in Tres Cantos (Madrid), received the order at the end of January to conceive, design, develop, assemble, integrate, test and supply the digital processor for the new Korean satellite Geo-KompSat-3. A central element of the multi-band transmissions, "it will be fully reprogrammable to provide communications services over the Korean peninsula," says Stéphane Terranova, CEO of Thales Alenia Space España.