Açoriano Oriental
Space will be the Region's fourth economic pillar

The coordinator of the Azores Mission Structure for Space, Luís Santos, stated he believes that, in the future, Space will be the fourth economic pillar of the Region.

Space will be the Region's fourth economic pillar

Autor: Ana Carvalho Melo

“[Space] will certainly not only be the fourth economic pillar, but it will also be a pillar in terms of sustainability”, Santos stated after the presentation of the Azores Space Strategy (EAE - in Portuguese), following an international conference on the subject held in Ponta Delgada.

Luís Santos recalled that, according to an estimate by Bank of America, the minimum expected growth rate for the Space sector is 7% for the coming years.

"I have absolutely no doubt that, in addition to having the potential to be the fourth economic area, [space] actually has the potential to be the fourth area for many years", he stressed, adding, however, that "I am not underestimating fisheries, agriculture, nor tourism. I am saying that these areas are more volatile, so Space can guarantee sustainability with a growth rate that, according to this study, is to be stable for the next few decades”.

According to Luís Santos, this economic pillar will develop through the creation of value and products by companies established in the Region. In this regard, he exemplified value creation as the raw data received from Space and that need to be transformed.

"Data transformation provides qualified employment, since it creates new data that allow mapping the coasts of terrestrial territories, or monitoring fishing areas, ships or planes routes, or that can be applied in the study of climate change, or in the mapping of access to space using launchers, or even in the placement of new 'assets' in space, avoiding collision with space debris”, he exemplified.

The coordinator of the Azores Mission Structure for Space then presented the Azores Space Strategy, a document that will guide the Region's medium and long-term vision for this sector and others that may benefit from it, directly or indirectly, positioning the Azores as a transatlantic 'hub' for space and aerospace-related activities.

To this end, the implementation of the Azores Space Strategy is based on three goals, the first one being economic growth, which is to be materialized “by stimulating the contribution of space and aerospace activities in the Region, hence multiplying and establishing qualified jobs”.

Capacity building, through the acceleration and enhancement of research and development skills in the Region, as well as the promotion of knowledge and learning in science, engineering, technology and applications related to space and aerospace sciences, is the second goal.

The last goal is to increase visibility for the Azores by promoting “the Region's potential as a transatlantic platform for activities related to Space and the aerospace sector, both public and private”.
In order to meet these goals, the strategy will cover several branches of the academic, public and business sectors and will promote a stable framework to attract private investments and national and international partners, guaranteeing a regular and reliable provision of operational services.

The Azores Space Strategy thus focuses on several priorities, including the development of applications based on spatial data. Therefore, the development of applications will be privileged, in turn leading to the development of regional capacities, namely data collection, interpretation, processing and modeling.

Another priority is the installation of test sites for space technologies and the integration of 'in situ' networks. At this point, it is to be highlighted that the Azores have volcanic sites, a temperate climate, rugged natural geomorphology and easy access to the deep sea, which are important characteristics for technology test sites requiring conditions similar to those faced by the space exploration of outer planets and asteroids.

The promotion of the archipelago as a wide and safe site to access space is another priority and, at this point, the Azores Space Strategy highlights “the region's characteristics in terms of location, reduced noise pollution and reduced air traffic” as “strong arguments for installing additional space debris sensors in the Azores”.

Finally, the Azores Space Strategy also establishes education and scientific dissemination about space as a priority area, stressing that it is “fundamental not only to raise awareness and stimulate the potential of local students, but also to promote the connection and involvement of the community with space activities”.

The Azores Space Strategy is currently under the public consultation phase, which is followed, after its approval in December, by the implementation plan.

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