SGAC Portugal

National Points of Contact
Hugo Costa Joao Lousada
Nuno Loureiro
May 2016-May 2018
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 2015

8th European Symposium on Aerothermodynamics, Lisbon, 2 - 6 March 2015

Organized in collaboration with the Von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics and the Institute for Plasma and Nuclear Fusion, the 8th Symposium event will take place in March 2015 in the city of Lisbon, at the door of Europe and will provide with two major highlights in the field:

Inauguration ceremony of the European Shock Tube for High Enthalpy Research, ESTHER & Presentation of the post-flight results and hardware of the Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle, IXV

Geospatial World Forum, Lisbon, 25 - 29 May 2015

With the theme CONVERGENCE: Policies + Practices + Processes via PPP, the event aims to address the need for greater coordination. Policies, technologies and applications are the three key factors affecting growth of geospatial industry. Formulation of policies and its associated implementation requires strong engagement & propagation of innovations and practices. Public private partnership is one instrumental driver not only in bridging technological gaps, but in integrating stakeholders for maximum impact.

42nd European Physical Society Conference on Plasma Physics, Lisbon, 22 - 26 June 2015

This conference continues a series of plasma physics conferences organized by the European Physical Society (EPS) covering the wide field of plasma physics, from nuclear fusion research to low temperature plasmas, as well as space and astrophysical plasmas.

Coimbra Solar Physics Meetins “Ground-based Solar Observations in the Space Instrumentation Era”, Coimbra, 5 - 9 October 2015

This CSPM-2015 scientific meeting will cover various aspects of solar dynamic and magnetic phenomena which are observed over the entire electromagnetic spectrum: white-light, Hα, Ca II, and radio from ground and in a variety of other wavelengths (white light, UV and EUV, and X-rays) from space. Since this meeting is organised around the 90th anniversary of performing the first spectroheliographic observations in Coimbra, a session will be specially dedicated to new solar instruments (both ground-based and space-borne) that will give access to unexplored solar atmospheric features and dynamic phenomena over the coming years.

Interesting Web Links for the Young Generation in Portugal

Groups & Entities





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