FILE FILE: Overview of the central stage of Web Summit, the largest technology conference in Europe, in Lisbon, Portugal, November 5, 2018. REUTERS / Pedro Nunes / Photo of the archive
LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal plans to build an international launch platform for small satellites in the Azores and agreed with China to create a joint research center to make satellites on the continent, said the Minister of Science and Technology on Tuesday.
The government received temporary proposals from 14 consortiums from Europe, the United States and Russia to design the launching platform in conjunction with local organizations and use the site in the future, said Manuel Heitor.
During the Web Summit – the largest technology conference in Europe that takes place in Lisbon this week – Heitor told reporters that the "space port" in the middle of the Atlantic island of Santa María should be ready for commercial launches in the middle of 2021.
Portugal aims to choose the winning offer until the middle of 2019.
Heitor also announced the joint project of 50 million euros (57 million dollars) with China, which will be financed equally by both countries and will provide a laboratory in Portugal next year.
The micro satellites to be designed there will connect with terrestrial and ocean sensors to collect data used in agriculture, fishing and oceanography.
Portugal's funding for satellite research will be from state and private sources and will involve the local Tekever company, which conducts surveillance drones for military and civilian applications, including the search for migrants from Africa.
Reports by Andrei Khalip; Edition by Robin Pomeroy