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Europe in Space
Issue 7. Subscribers: 264
If you haven’t checked out my interview with Pangea Aerospace CEO and CCO Adrià Argemí and Xavier Llairo, you can listen to it now on your favourite podcast streaming platform. Otherwise, thank you for continuing to subscribe, and please enjoy the issue.

Did you know that Spain doesn’t have a space agency?
Despite being a founding member and one of the largest contributors to the European Space Agency (ESA), Spain currently does not have a national space agency. This is, however, about to change, and with the help of Leonardo López, a space lawyer and economist, and a member of the Spanish Air and Space Legal Society, I took a look at the country’s progress.
The first signs that Spain was serious about creating a national space agency were revealed in the 2021 National Security Strategy, published on 31 December 2021.
“The creation of a Spanish Space Agency will contribute to organizing the competencies and establishing a national policy that serves as a guide, both to the public and private sectors.”
[Translated version of the text featured in the 2021 National Security Strategy]
In February 2022, this proposal became part of a suite of amendments to the Science, Technology, and Innovation Law which was first introduced in 2011. 
“The reform of the law also proposes the creation of the Spanish Space Agency, with a component dedicated to national security, to direct the effort in space matters, efficiently coordinate the different national organizations with responsibilities in the space sector and unify collaboration and international coordination.”
[Translated version of the text featured in the Amendment of the Science, Technology, and Innovation Law]
According to López, if all goes well, the amendments to Science, Technology, and Innovation Law will be passed by Congress in late May or June 2022. 
Once this happens, the undertaking will begin with the aim of creating the agency within a year. This process will integrate functions that are currently distributed within different entities and ministerial spheres in order to unify Spain’s representation in the sector. It will also endeavor to create a legal framework capable of managing the country’s burgeoning launch industry.
Currently, the only piece of legislation governing launch activities from Spain is the Royal Decree of 1995. This decree regulates the Register of Space Objects established in November 1974 by the UN General Assembly. There is no legislation that outlines which government agency or authority would issue a launch license, a phenomenon not unique to Spain.
PLD Space is currently working towards launching its suborbital Miura 1 launch vehicle from El Arenosillo on Spanish soil this year. The launch facility is located on the southwest coast of Spain and is owned and operated by the National Institute for Aerospace Technology (INTA). The launch will also involve other key public stakeholders, including the Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology, CDTI, INTA, and the Spanish military.
According to López, in compliance with the outer space treaty, the involvement of these key public stakeholders puts PLD Space in a unique position of not needing to wait for a launch license, and therefore a space law, to conduct this initial test flight. However, if Spain is to transform El Arenosillo into a European spaceport and foster its burgeoning newspace industry, the country’s push to create a legal framework to allow for this growth will be important.
A look at the progress of the first Vega-C rocket. I will continue to update this graphic as I get more information.
A look at the progress of the first Vega-C rocket. I will continue to update this graphic as I get more information.
News of the week
Hurry up and wait - ESA successfully stacked the Zefiro 9 third stage of the first Avio Vega-C launch vehicle in Kourou this week. Next to come is the AVUM+ upper stage. Although the pace of integration has been steady, this next step will likely slow things down a bit. Avio announced May 9 that acceptance tests are currently underway on the AVUM+ fourth stage. Once complete, the stage will still need to be transferred across the Atlantic to the launch site.
It’s alive. IT’S ALIVE - UK-based launch startup SmallSpark Space Systems has announced the successful demonstration and test campaign of its S4-NEWT pathfinder. The smallsat propulsion system is described by the company as one of the world’s simplest, most compact, dual-firing mode satellite thrusters.
It’s all a simulation, man - French satellite propulsion company Exotrail has signed a contract with the French military to supply the French Space Command with satellite maneuver simulation and characterization software. The software will be a custom version of the company’s ExoOPS™ - Mission Design software, known as ExoOPS™ - Défense.
What year is it? - Spanish in-orbit propulsion company Arkadia Space announced it has partnered with ArianeGroup to investigate future space transportation concepts as part of the ESA’s New European Space Transportation Solutions (NESTS) initiative. NESTS aims to investigate next-gen technologies that will be exploited in the period between 2030 and 2050. Arkadia Space will have a leading role in the assessment of green in-orbit propulsion concepts and their associated propellants.
My precious - Precious Payload announced May 12 that it had acquired German space tech company HOSTmi. The pair both run digital space marketplaces that strive to simplify the complex launch industry. According to Precious Payload, the deal will “fast-forward the commercialization of the European space industry.”
The blue dawn rises - Dawn Aerospace has been selected by Blue Canyon Technologies to provide chemical propulsion for the company’s X-SAT Saturn satellite bus. Dawn will supply thrusters, tanks, control electronics, and full-service support in logistics and propellant loading.
You ain’t seen nothing yet - Orbex unveiled its first full-scale prototype of the company’s Prime launch vehicle. The vehicle is designed to be capable of carrying 150 kg payloads to orbit. Orbex is targeting this year to debut Prime from Space Hub Sutherland. It’s not clear if the launch site will be ready to support the launch, though.
A skip and a hop across the pond - Astra announced that it had signed an agreement with SaxaVord Spaceport to launch the company’s Rocket 3 vehicle from the Scottish launch facility. If all goes well, Astra missions will begin launching from SaxaVord by 2023. Construction at SaxaVord is yet to begin with long-awaited planning permission only granted earlier this year. 
One hell of a show - Avio revealed that it had successfully tested its Vega-E M10 upper stage engine for the first time. The methalox engine has a max thrust of 10 tons and will remove Vega’s reliance on Ukrainian engines. The maiden flight of Vega-E is currently slated for 2026.
Star light, star bright - French optical atmospheric characterization startup Miratlas has raised €2 million in seed funding. The round was led by Karista and supported by Région Sud Investissement and private investors. Miratlas is working on a worldwide network of measurement stations to allow precise cloud and atmospheric turbulence monitoring through the analysis of starlight and sunlight.
Are we there yet? - Airbus has finished the assembly, integration, and testing of the MEASAT-3D communications satellite. The satellite is now on its way to Kourou for launch aboard an Ariane 5 on 22 June.
We are family - Swiss space debris management startup ClearSpace announced that its services would be compatible with the recently released Lockheed Martin open-source mechanical satellite docking interface. According to ClearSpace standardized docking systems will enable the development of generic vehicles and reduce the cost of services in orbit.
Startup of the week: Leaf Space
While many are developing ways to launch, build or propel small satellites, Leaf Space is working on a network to communicate with them.
The Italian startup offers ground segment services, utilising a network of ground stations around the world. As of the end of 2021, the Leaf Space network includes close to 15 ground stations around the world. During a recent SpaceX rideshare mission, the company supplied tracking services to 13 separate satellites which included D-Orbit and NanoAvionics satellites.
To date, Leaf Space has raised €10 million, closing a €5 million Series A funding round in early 2021.
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Andrew Parsonson

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