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Catalan Space Agency
Agència Espacial de Catalunya
Agency overview
FormedOctober 27, 2020; 3 years ago (2020-10-27)
TypeSpace agency
JurisdictionCatalan Government
Annual budgetUS$2.5 millions

The Catalan Space Agency (Catalan: Agència Espacial de Catalunya; AEC) is a space agency created by the Executive Council of the Generalitat de Catalunya. It successfully launched two nanosatellites: Enxaneta on March 22, 2021, and Menut on January 3, 2023. The program had an initial duration of two years, from 2021 until 2023, and envisages the launch of a constellation of up to six satellites with a public investment of 21 million dollars (18 million euros) over four years with part of the co-financing from the European Regional Development Fund.[1][2] The agency is under the authority of the Catalan Ministry of Digital Policies, and was announced as part of the "NewSpace Strategy of Catalonia" on October 27, 2020.[3][4][5]

The then Minister of Digital Policies, Jordi Puigneró, explained that this space agency would be responsible for managing the entire government space strategy,[6][7] and that on October 27th, 2020 it had already launched a bidding process for the first two satellites. The project in which the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC) would collaborate would have a budget of 2.5 million euros. The Catalan government's forecast at the time was that this public investment could create 1,200 jobs in the next 5 years, multiplying by 15 the initial amount invested, reaching approximately 280-300 million euros[2] in these 5 years.[1]


As Generalitat de Catalunya has stated, the NewSpace strategy would represent a new use of space, new technologies, a new set of services and, therefore, a new economy based on the democratization of space and the aerospace industry.[8] One of the catalysts for this change would be the emergence of the CubeSat nanosatellite standard (satellites weighing less than 10 kg).

The NewSpace concept is based on the use of smaller satellites, with lower cost and development time, compared to current satellites. They orbit at low altitudes (LEO) and use standard technologies. These characteristics represent a paradigm shift in the way space missions are developed and will enhance the use of their services by many more agents, both in vertical and cross-sectional applications in various productive sectors.[9]


The intended function of these nanosatellites, both launched and planned, was to increase 5G coverage within Catalonia for the internet of things, conduct terrestrial observation, support the government's own services, and to aid fire control and rescue services in natural preserves and isolated areas. The contracts for design, launch, and subsequent connection of the satellites were granted to private companies.[1][8] One of the nanosatellites would serve to "complement terrestrial networks and, for example, improve coverage in natural parks to control herds in the high mountains," said the then General Director of Innovation and Digital Economy, Dani Marco, as well as another, would allow "monitoring from space and in real-time major natural disasters such as catastrophic storms like Gloria or to analyze air pollution." These satellites could also be used to check the state of crops, improve weather forecasting, study water reserves in reservoirs and swamps, or observe light pollution and its effects. The chosen models would weigh from one to ten kilograms and could orbit at an altitude of about 2,000 kilometers at a cost ranging from 500,000 euros to 2 million euros. They would be designed and constructed quickly within 6-8 months and have a service life of 4 years.[10]


The promotion of NewSpace, or private spaceflight, is a priority of the Generalitat de Catalunya, which wants to support the deployment of this space economy to make Catalonia a pole of innovation, leadership, talent, and attract companies in the field of the growing NewSpace sector. The NewSpace Strategy of Catalonia will deploy a multidisciplinary, transversal plan focused on the needs of the public administration and the impact on people that will prioritize sectors such as territorial management, agriculture and livestock, hydrography, cartography, public services, among others. As the project promoters stated, the strategy will be deployed around the following main subjects:[3][4]

Project Opportunities

Catalonia has already achieved success in launching missions and designing payloads and ground stations,[citation needed] it also has knowledge in the field of telecommunications, with several research centers of great solvency, capacity and experience such as MareNostrum Supercomputing Center and other entities.[3] Another favorable factor is the fact that Barcelona is the world capital of mobile phones and home to the main technology fairs in the world.[11] All this would help to have a better attraction of private capital that complements all the activities carried out by the public sector and start-ups.

Apart from the companies and research groups that are working in what we could call how the traditional space, at present, the knowledge and R&D ecosystem “NewSpace” in Catalonia is focused on the following main actors: the UPC, and in particular the UPC NanoSat Lab,[12][13] the Institut d'Estudis Espacials de Catalunya, and more recently the i2Cat and the CTTC which are bringing the experience of how new 5G services can impact this sector emerging.

Catalonia currently has some leadership in this sector with nearly 30 emerging companies,[citation needed] some of which are world leaders,[citation needed] such as OpenCosmos, Sateliot, Pangea and Zero2Infinity.[14] There are 13 leading research and innovation centers in this field,[citation needed] as well as with one of the business incubation centers of the European Space Agency, the ESA BIC Barcelona, located in the Mediterranean Technology Park of Castelldefels, sharing space with EETAC, the Castlldefels School of Telecommunication and Aerospace Engineering.

See also


  1. ^ a b c "El Govern aprueba crear la Agencia Espacial de Catalunya y lanzará dos satélites en el 2021". La Vanguardia (in Spanish). 2020-10-27. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  2. ^ a b Alonso, Eduardo López (2020-10-27). "Catalunya lanzará dos satélites al espacio en el primer semestre del 2021". elperiodico (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  3. ^ a b c "L'Estratègia NewSpace de Catalunya" (PDF). Generalitat de Catalunya Departament de Polítiques Digitals i Administració Pública. October 27, 2020. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-11-01.
  4. ^ a b "Estratègia NewSpace de Catalunya". Departament de Polítiques Digitals i Administració Pública (in Catalan). Archived from the original on 2020-10-31. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  5. ^ a b "Catalunya fa camí cap a l'espai". Via empresa (in Catalan). Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  6. ^ "El Govern impulsa la nova 'Economia de l'Espai' amb la voluntat d'enlairar una nova indústria que generi 1.200 nous llocs de feina i 280 milions de facturació". Departament de Polítiques Digitals i Administració Pública (in Catalan). Archived from the original on 2020-10-31. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  7. ^ "El govern crea l'Agència Espacial de Catalunya i posa en òrbita els dos primers nanosatèl·lits - YouTube". Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  8. ^ a b "Annexos. Estratègia NewSpace de Catalunya" (PDF). Generalitat de Catalunya Departament de Polítiques Digitals i Administració Pública. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-11-01.
  9. ^ "NewSpace". IEEC. Retrieved 28 December 2023.
  10. ^ ACN. "El Govern crea una Agència Espacial que pretén generar 1.200 nous llocs de treball". El Punt Avui (in Catalan). Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  11. ^ "Mobile World Capital Barcelona | Technology Matters". Mobile World Capital Barcelona. Retrieved 2020-10-28.
  12. ^ "NanoSat Lab — UPC. Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya". Archived from the original on 2016-10-21. Retrieved 2020-10-28.
  13. ^ "Dos nanosatélites catalanes estudian las regiones polares y ofrecen imágenes de la Tierra". Actualidad Aeroespacial (in Spanish). 2020-09-04. Retrieved 2020-10-28.
  14. ^ "L'Agència Espacial de Catalunya, en marxa". betevé (in Catalan). 2020-10-28. Retrieved 2020-10-28.

Further reading