The Azores Region is an autonomous territory of the Portuguese Republic, located in the Northeast Atlantic, sitting on the triple junction of the American, African and Eurasian tectonic plates. The archipelago is comprised of 9 volcanic islands and plays a major geostrategic role due to its position and its contribution to the Portuguese Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of nearly 1 million Km2, one of the largest in Europe, representing 16,3% of the EU’s EEZ. Within this area, about 63 deep seamounts (at depths below 1000m) and 398 shallow seamounts (between 200 and 1000m depth) have been mapped by scientists, being of great importance for this region’s biological resources, research and fishing activity.
The ocean and its resources, agriculture and tourism are key strategic areas for the Regional Government of Azores, that also intends to develop its potential on the space sector to promote the New Space economy and the development of space and satellite technologies’ applications with the aim to meet the economic and social needs of the Region’s citizens and public administration.
Santa Maria island hosts most of the space related infrastructures in Azores, namely one of the first European Space Agency’s launcher tracking station (ESTRACK) and Copernicus collaborative station and a Galileo Sensor Station, all operated by EDISOFT. Santa Maria also hosts a VLBI station integrated in RAEGE – Atlantic Network of Geodynamic and Spatial Stations, a collaborative project between the Regional Government and Government of Spain.
Having created an entity to manage all space-related affairs – Azores Mission Structure for Space (EMA – Space) – the Azores is one of the founders of the Portuguese Space Agency – Portugal Space, and clearly defines space as a strategic sector for the future and commits to playing an active role in the Portuguese National Space Strategy 2030.
The Azores is also a founder and hosts the Atlantic International Research Centre (AIR Centre), an ocean, atmosphere, climate and energy space oriented international organization that leverages the use of space data, mainly from Copernicus satellites, to deliver space applications and position the Azores as a privileged natural laboratory placed in the middle of the Atlantic.
The Region as recently approved its space strategy, a document that sets the main path to position the Azores as the Atlantic hub for space (www.spaceazores.pt). This strategy aims to develop the scientific sector, the access and return from space, the in situ sensing integrated with satellite data, the downstream segment, creating condition to attract investors and capacities to develop their activities in the Azores.