The Portuguese Space Agency wants to take the Space Rider to Santa Maria island, a European shuttle that experiments with microgravity, taking advantage of the island’s airport.
“Space Rider is a microgravity laboratory”, which allows “developing new products and systems”, the minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education told Lusa Monday.
Manuel Heitor visited the island of Santa Maria, accompanied by the president of the Regional Government of the Azores and a delegation from the European space agency.
The experiences made with this shuttle will, for example, “completely transform the pharmaceutical industry”, since they allow “to make new products in a faster way”, said the minister.
This requires that, where Space Rider lands, there must be pharmaceutical companies’ laboratories ”, adds the guardian.
Manuel Heitor considers, therefore, that “bringing the Space Rider is not just using a magnificent airport and a magnificent location, it is also bringing new people and creating jobs here in Santa Maria”.
On the website of Portugal Space, it is clarified that it is a vehicle that allows “the access and return of payloads to and from Space, enabling the investigation and development of new products in a microgravity environment”.
This is, therefore, a project that “depends, to a large extent, on the ability to link the space and non-space sectors”.
Santa Maria appears as a landing place for this European Space Agency system, “which will allow Europe to have viable transport for space operations to and from Space, guaranteeing European industry the ability to open new markets”, reads in the ‘ website of the Portuguese space agency.
During the day, an extension protocol was signed between the Portuguese Republic and the European Space Agency (ESA), and the new project was announced and Portugal Space intends to implement on the island.
This is “a great European public investment, where Portugal decided to invest, together with Italy and with all European countries, through the Space Agency”, he adds.
The infrastructure will have a landing control center, as well as a payload processing and analysis platform with highly specialized facilities and skills ”, specifies the description of the project.
This contract will go to tender later this year, so that the work can begin in 2022, with the inaugural flight scheduled for 2023, said the president of Portugal Space, Ricardo Conde.
“Space Rider appears in the context of an” ecosystem “that is being created in Santa Maria, which already has structures such as the teleport, which today inaugurated a 15-meter antenna dedicated to the collection of scientific data that will allow us to understand the changes climate change.
The creation of a Space Port and a test facility for rocket engines are also planned.
Initially it was planned that the contract for the installation and operation of the Santa Maria Space Port would be signed in June 2019, so that the first launches of small satellites would take place in the summer of 2021, but the public tender ended with the exclusion of the two competitors.
The Government of the Republic approved in March 2019 the creation of the Portuguese space agency Portugal Space, based on the island of Santa Maria.