Spain now has its own space agency.
The country's Council of Ministers voted to allow the Spanish Space Agency, or Agencia Espacial Española (AEE), to commence operations on March 7. Plans for the agency were officially announced back in May 2021.
The agency will be based in Seville and serve to "guarantee Spain's strategic action in the field of space, both from the point of view of its technological development and the use of space in areas such as security, Earth observation, geolocation and telecommunications," according to a statement from Spain's Ministry of Science and Innovation, via machine translation.
"Space is a priority and strategic area, essential to help and protect our society in fields as diverse as cybersecurity, navigation, the fight against climate change or the monitoring of phenomena such as drought or fires," the statement continued.
Minister for Science and Innovation Diana Morant indicated that the agency will have an initial budget of more than 700 million euros (U.S. $753 million) in 2023.
The development demonstrates that Spain is looking to make a concerted effort to coordinate and strengthen its space sector.
Spain is already a part of the European Space Agency (ESA). Furthermore, two Spaniards, Pablo Álvarez Fernández and Sara García Alonso, were chosen among a total of 17 candidate astronauts in the 2022 class of ESA astronauts in November.
The country is also making 45 million euros in funding available to fund launch startups, Morant stated.
Notably, Spanish launch firm PLD Space is currently preparing to launch its Miura 1 suborbital rocket early next month while also working on the orbital Miura 5 rocket.
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Andrew is a freelance space journalist with a focus on reporting on China's rapidly growing space sector. He began writing for Space.com in 2019 and writes for SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, New Scientist and others. Andrew first caught the space bug when, as a youngster, he saw Voyager images of other worlds in our solar system for the first time. Away from space, Andrew enjoys trail running in the forests of Finland. You can follow him on Twitter @AJ_FI.