29th November 2023
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From Andalusia into space: private firm to launch Spain’s maiden rocket flight

A private company, PLD Space, based in the province of Huelva (Andalusia) and visited by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez at the weekend, is to launch a micro rocket into space within several weeks, in a first for Spain as a space race hots up across Europe.

PLD Space is a pioneering Spanish company in the aerospace sector and in the development of re-usable rockets.

‘We develop re-usable rockets to provide commercial orbital and suborbital access to small satellites in a faster, safer and more viable way,’ the company states on its website.

Sánchez underlined the government’s commitment to ‘putting Spain at the forefront of the aerospace transport industry’ during his visit to the launch site and facilities at the National Institute for Aerospace Technology (INTA) in Mazagón (Huelva).

‘This rocket, when it is launched, we Spaniards we will all watch it on television and I know that when, within several weeks MIURA-1 will begin its journey, the devotion and hard work of many people … will have been worthwhile,’ Sánchez said.

MIURA-1 sub-orbital launcher is intended to carry out up to four missions a year and possibly take cargo ‘into space and bring it back safely’, according to PLD’s website.

‘Your dream is shared by all of Spanish society because we are led by a common goal, that is to put Spain at the forefront of this space transport industry,’ Sánchez said.

Sánchez stressed that Spanish aerospace is a ‘powerful and competitive’ industry, with a total economic impact exceeding €13 billion in 2020 – 1.2% of Spanish GDP and 5.4% of industrial GDP – and the capacity to provide 155,000 direct and indirect jobs, many of them highly specialised. He also pointed out that investment in R&D&i in Spain has already reached €1.5 billion.

PLD Space president Ezequiel Sánchez said the launch showcases Spain’s capabilities in the sector.

‘Spain is demonstrating its technological leadership in Europe by supplying the capacity which may enable us to be at the head of the strategic sector for small satellites,’ he said.

After MIURA-1, the company plans to develop in 2024 a re-usable small launch vehicle, dubbed MIURA-5, to put small satellites into orbit.

Launch pads are springing up across Europe as the small rocket market takes off after decades of institutional dominance by national space agencies.

Besides Spain, the UK, Portugal, Germany and Iceland are all running projects to put satellites into orbit.

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