The Spanish Space Agency is getting closer and closer to becoming a reality. It is currently at the point of deciding where its headquarters will be, an honor for which about twenty cities in the country are postulating. The Government has published in the Official State Gazette the requirements to be taken into account by the consultative commission in charge of determining the headquarters of the future Agency, which the Executive wants to be operational in the first quarter of 2023.
Diana Morant, the Minister of Science and Innovation, stressed that this process will be transparent, open and competitive, and that it responds to the Government’s commitment to the deconcentration of public sector headquarters in order to favor territorial structuring.
However, the tough requirements for the choice of headquarters have raised some controversy from some cities such as Teruel.
Which cities have presented their candidacy to be the headquarters of the Spanish Space Agency?
There are many municipalities competing to host the Spanish Space Agency and they have already formalized their candidacy; about twenty from 10 different regions. Among them are Huelva, Seville, Teruel, Elche, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Cabanillas del Campo, Yebes, Puertollano, Ciudad Real, León, Palencia, Cebreros, San Javier, Tres Cantos, Robledo de Chavela and L’Hospitalet de Llobregat. In addition, the Basque Country has also sent its candidacy, although without specifying the exact location.
Spain undoubtedly has many cities with very complete candidacies to become the headquarters of this project that is expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2023, although the requirements published by the Government to be taken into account for the election are tough and not without controversy: The municipalities belonging to Madrid (Tres Cantos and Robledo de Chavela) complain that the Government has already expressed more interest in deconcentrating the headquarters, so the Madrid candidates would have it more difficult because they are so close to the capital that monopolizes much of the headquarters of national institutions. On the other hand, Teruel complains about the harshness of the requirements, which he argues are difficult to meet for a city that is not very large.
What requirements does the government ask of candidate cities?
One of the main factors to be taken into account are the city’s communications, since it is assumed that the headquarters of the Spanish Space Agency will have a lot of international movement. That is why among the requirements are to have a wide network of access to public transport with special emphasis on high-speed rail.
It must also be less than an hour from an international airport with connections to Paris and Brussels, and if possible also to Amsterdam, Toulouse, Rome and Prague.
And so that personnel from other international agencies as well as companies in the New Space sector can visit the Spanish headquarters, among the requirements is that it be close to a hotel environment to accommodate visitors.
In addition to the requirements that refer to communications, space must also be taken into account, since the future Spanish Space Agency is estimated to occupy a space of about 3,000 square meters and will need several multifunctional spaces and the capacity to organize events involving up to 250 people.
The choice of location also plays a role in the choice of venue. The Government plans for the Agency to be up and running in the first quarter of 2023, so it will value the candidates that already have some of the work done, such as having facilities available for this period that would accommodate about 70 employees between civil servants, labor and senior management positions that are estimated necessary for the start of the Agency.
Everything adds up to be the chosen city, since the Official Gazette adds as a requirement the importance of being close to a “dynamic” business, education and university sector.
The candidates have also had to present an analysis of the economic, social and industrial impact that the headquarters would have, specify the possible synergies with innovation, research and entrepreneurship in the aerospace sector and, of course, have the support of the Government.
This is a great opportunity for any of the cities chosen as headquarters, since the creation of the Spanish Space Agency is contemplated in the Strategic Project for the Recovery and Economic Transformation (Perte) Aerospace, for which the Government wants to mobilize about 4,500 million euros between 2021 and 2025, with which it seeks to promote research and innovation in the aeronautical and space sector.
At Solar MEMS we are excited about the idea that the Spanish Space Agency is taking steps towards becoming a reality. Although our headquarters is located in Seville, one of the candidate cities, our team is used to travel all over the world and it would be a pleasure to host it near our facilities or to move to any point in Spain. The important thing is to give a new boost to the aerospace sector in our country and to put us on a par with other countries that already have their own Space Agency.