What is EUSPA?

The European Union Space Programme Agency (EUSPA), based in Prague, leads Earth observation (Copernicus) and satellite navigation (Galileo and EGNOS) space programmes. The Spanish Space Agency represents Spain in these programmes in coordination with various ministerial departments.

The EU is the second largest public investor in space in Europe after the ESA and, with the entry into force of the EU Space Programme, has a specific programme dedicated exclusively to space (in addition to space activities included in other more general programmes, such as the Horizon Europe programme and the EU Defence programmes).

The EU space regulation establishes four programme blocks:

  • Satellite navigation programmes, with Galileo and EGNOS as the main programmes.
  • Earth observation programmes, in particular Copernicus.
  • Satellite telecommunications programmes (GOVSATCOM) and the secure connectivity initiative (IRIS2).
  • Space surveillance programmes.

Spain has played an increasing role in these programmes since their inception. However, notably, the SST programme represents a paradigm shift in the management of EU space activity, from delegating its projects to the ESA to entrusting management to a consortium of national space agencies: originally CDTI (Spanish Centre for the Development of Technology and Innovation), CNES (French National Centre for Space Studies), DLR (German Space Agency), ASI (Italian Space Agency) and UKSA (UK Space Agency), and from 2022 to a total of 15 space agencies from EU member states.

In addition to its responsibilities in the SST programme, since 2020, the CDTI has undertaken the role of coordinator of the national space agency consortium, previously held by the German Space Agency (DLR). The ESA, through the CDTI, manages the S3T project to take advantage of these opportunities. This involves developing a comprehensive Spanish SST system with an operations centre and associated sensors (radar, lasers and telescopes). This role has been maintained following expansion with the support of the participating agencies.

This represented an unprecedented challenge for Spain in the field of space: Spain had never before led an EU space programme, which offers great opportunities for Spanish companies, research centres and space infrastructures.

In addition, Spain participates in CSA initiatives funded by the Framework Programme:

  • In the consortium of space agencies commissioned by the European Commission to manage new electric propulsion space projects (EPIC).
  • In the consortium of space agencies commissioned by the European Commission to manage new robotic space projects (PERASPERA).

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