(English version available soon)
The results of the 1st phase of the Atlantic International Satellite Launch Program are available on the ATLANTIC ISLP page. The Program received 14 proposals from international consortia, which expressed interest in collaborating with Portuguese companies and national research and engineering centers to design, install and operate a spaceport on Santa Maria Island in the Azores. This initiative was launched in September in a partnership between the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) and the Azores Mission for Space (EMA - Espaço), with technical support from the European Space Agency (ESA).
The 14 expressions of interest were analyzed by an International High Level Commission, composed of 9 national and foreign experts of recognized international merit and coordinated by Jean Jacques Dordain, former Director General of ESA. The Commission recommended a list of candidates to be invited to participate in the 2nd phase of this Program (Competitive Bidding Phase).
The Commission has selected 5 expressions of interest submitted by satellite launch companies proposing to develop a small launcher and seek a launch base: AVIO, AZUL Consortium, Isar Aerospace Technologies GmbH, PLD Space, Rocket Factory Augsburg and Edisoft. These consortia will be invited to submit a full proposal in the second phase of the AISLP.
The Commission also considered that there are another set of expressions of interest that, while not requiring a spaceport, are able to conduct specific negotiations with the Portuguese authorities; that others may be subsystem suppliers; and it also identified the Ariane Group, which has expressed interest in developing, operating and managing the spaceport.
Applications for the first phase of the program ended on October 31, 2018. This phase consisted of expressions of interest by entities that could guarantee the development and operation of a new generation of satellite launch services for space. The 14 expressions submitted included companies from various countries (11 from the European Union, 2 from the USA and 1 from Russia), which declared interest in acting in the entire value chain associated with the new generation of services for launching small satellites into space. It should be noted that the proposals comprised innovative solutions for access to space with micro-launchers (representing 7 proposals), system engineering and software products and services.
The Atlantic International Program for Satellite Launching aims to stimulate the creation of skilled jobs and leverage new space projects of high added value, which could ensure the increase and a new impetus to existing projects on the island of Santa Maria, as well as for companies and national research and technological development centers in this sector, positioning the country and the region in the development of a new generation of space activities based on small satellites. The expectation is that, once all the phases of evaluation and analysis of feasibility conditions and contractual processes have been completed, the first launch services will begin operating in the Azores in the spring/summer of 2021.
The selection process will proceed with the following steps:
- February 2019: Phase 2 - submission of proposals with the required information in response to the "International Call for Tender for Launch Services to Space from the Island of Santa Maria";
- February/March 2019: Evaluation process, including a public presentation of the proposals.
- March/May 2019: Final Evaluation Phase.
- Late April 2019: Final negotiation with companies / consortia.
- April/May 2019: Contract for the development and operation of the Spaceport.
- May/June 2019 to May/June 2021 (2 years): Analysis and external evaluation of the implementation phase.
- Spring/Summer 2021: first launch services planned to operate in the Azores.