SGAC Portugal

National Points of Contact
Hugo Costa Joao Lousada
Hugo Costa
Dec 2013-Dec 2015
Joao Lousada
May 2015-May 2017
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Portugal entered the space arena on September 26, 1993, with the launch of its first satellite – the PoSAT-1. PoSAT-1 was a 50 kg Earth Observation and technology demonstration satellite, launched into a Sun-synchronous orbit on top of an Ariane 4 rocket. PoSAT-1 was the name of the Portuguese consortium led by Fernando Carvalho Rodrigues, who planned, developed and commissioned the microsatellite. The consortium was composed by a set of Portuguese companies, research institutes and universities such as: INETI, EFACEC, MARCONI, OGMA, ALCATEL PORTUGAL, IST, UBI, and CEDINTEC, which in cooperation with SSTL, Surrey Satellites Technology Ltd., built the satellite.

From the launch and operation of PoSAT-1 until the year 2000 nothing really remarkable happened with regards to space within the country. In the year 2000 though, Portugal officially became a member state of the European Space Agency, ESA, and later on a member of the European Southern Observatory, ESO. Both events have triggered the establishment of a solid space industry across the country and raised the overall awareness on space topics and activities among students and general public.

In 2010, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Portuguese participation within ESA, an impact study has revealed a transformed image of the country’s space sector. According to this report, Portugal has got a geographical return from ESA of nearly 99% in 2009 (ratio between the incoming ESA projects and the country’s financial contribution). This has shown that, for the first time, the Portuguese space community was fully profiting from the investment the Portuguese government has made in ESA’s different programmes since the year 2000.

14 years have now passed since the creation of the first space companies, most of them founded by young entrepreneurs. Today, one can say the Portuguese space industry has grown and is set, it is recognised and innovative, and covers all mission phases ranging from preliminary studies, to hardware manufacturing or operations. However, one must still note that a considerable number of young professionals and university students leave the country at some point of their studies or professional careers, looking for improved learning and enhancement of their skills.

SGAC Portugal strong goal is, therefore, to keep the Portuguese students and young professionals connected and thrilled, regardless of how and where they pursue their space careers.

Young Space Activities Overview in Portugal

As mentioned before, the space industry in Portugal has grown considerably. Although its size is still not comparable to the largest European space players, the number of companies has increased 7 times over the past ten years, while the number of contracts with ESA has grown from 4, in 2000, to 58, in 2009, representing a volume of more than 17M€.

This trend is also reflected in academia. The R&D institutes are responsible for 10% of all space projects in Portugal, many of them developed in cooperation with industry. Apart from technology, research in astronomy and related areas is also of major relevance within the Portuguese space scene. Several research centres and groups are dedicated to studying the skies, cooperating internationally for observation and science production. As these institutes are also associated to universities, they bridge academia and industry, playing therefore a key role in education.

Although in Portugal there are only two degrees dedicated to Aerospace or Aeronautical Engineering, universities are opening more vacancies for space related subjects not just in engineering but also in astronomy and astrophysics. There are also law students interested in this area and developing their thesis or papers in Space Law. Regarding student groups, there is one space association in Portugal, Euroavia, with two local groups, one in Lisboa and another in Covilhã.

Governmental Policies

It is the Government’s responsibility to define the national strategy plan, including the areas of the European space programmes to invest on. The space opportunities and activities are monitored by a governmental Space Office, whose main role is to assist the government in the communication between Portuguese companies/institutes and the main European space players, like ESA and the European Commission. The Space Office published a Portuguese Space Catalogue in 2009 with detailed information on space-related companies and research centres. In June 2011, Space Office released an updated version of this Portuguese Space Catalogue.

Country-Specific Events in 2014

This attractive seaside location will, we hope, produce an excellent scientific forum, and we also anticipate lively outreach sessions. As with the highly successful meeting in London in 2013, which attracted 960 attendees (the largest yet for an all European EPSC), it will provide an attractive platform to exchange and present results, develop new ideas and to network the planetary science community in Europe. It will continue to have a distinctively interactive style, with a mix of talks, workshops and posters, intended to provide a stimulating environment for the community to meet. The meeting will cover the whole scope of planetary science.

9th International ESA Conference on Guidance, Navigation & Control Systems. The Conference is addressed to international participants from the Aerospace Industry, Academia, Equipment Manufacturers and Space Agencies.

A Symposium with a cross-disciplinary nature, reflected in the inclusion of themes and speakers from the Astronomy and from the Statistics communities – from data processing to methods and model selection. A Symposium that will help to keep building bridges, establishing fruitful collaborations and providing a natural discussion forum for both communities. And mainly, an IAU Symposium that today, may enable tomorrows unravelling of our Universe.

Interesting Web Links for the Young Generation in Portugal

Groups & Entities





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