Portugal Eyes Spaceport in the Azores

Azores from space. (Credit: Portugal Government)

The government of Portugal and the regional government of the Azores have issued an international call of interest for proposals to use a proposed spaceport on the island of Santa Maria.

“In several recent independent studies, all the authors concluded that the Island of Santa Maria offers a privileged geographic location in the middle of the Atlantic, permitting an unobstructed launch trajectory, over the sea, for polar or SSO [sun synchronous] orbits, as well as a unique position between Europe, the Americas and Africa, representing a major advantage compared to other space ports in the world,” according to the program’s official website.

The Atlantic International Satellite Launch Programme hopes to begin begin launches of small satellites in 2021. Officials announced the program on Tuesday at the International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany.

“The feasibility of establishing a spaceport in the Azores was first assessed in the fall of 2017 by the Center for Space Research of the University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin) under the UT Austin-Portugal partnership, supported by the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation, FCT, and released by the end of 2017,” according to the website.

“Since then, several key space providers have initiated studies about potential launch sites in the Azores and, in addition, ESA is currently supporting preliminary micro-launcher related studies through its FLPP – Future Launchers Preparatory Program and GSTP – General Studies and Technology Programme,” the website states.

The deadline for interested parties to provide a formal expression of interest is Oct. 31.