Friday, September 30

Teruel also wants to exist in star maps and is running as the headquarters of the Spanish Space Agency

Fight depopulation with a space agency. That is the objective on which the administrations of Teruel and the Government of Aragon are working. “From Teruel to heaven” is the motto of the candidacy promoted by the Autonomous Executive for the province to host the headquarters of the Spanish Space Agency. In their proposal they defend that they already have an aerospace “business ecosystem”.

This is the “MIURA 1”, the first rocket for minisatellites manufactured in Spain

Know more

“We claim that in an area as unpopulated as Teruel we have found a gold mine: our skies are so clean that they allow aerospace work to be done,” says Maru Díaz, Minister of Science and University of the Government of Aragon. In the province there is consensus in supporting this candidacy. From the counselor, a member of Podemos – which shares a coalition with the PSOE, Chunta Aragonesista and the Aragonese Party –, to the city council, governed by PP and Ciudadanos, endorse this initiative. “We go hand in hand,” confirms the popular Juan Carlos Cruzado, deputy mayor of the city. Teruel Exists has also joined to this initiative in Congress.

In recent months, the regional government has worked to “join institutional and social support” in the region, explains Díaz. In this compilation of adhesions they have found personalities as diverse as singer David Civera and the former Minister of Defense in the Government of Mariano Rajoy (PP), Pedro Morenesas reported by the local press.

The agency’s mission will be the “effective coordination of activities around the space field, both from the point of view of its technological development and the use of space in areas such as security, earth observation, geolocation and communications,” says Ministry of Science in a press release.

The body in charge of setting up the agency is the Space Council, an interministerial body in which there are representatives of the ministries of the Presidency, Defense, Science, Transport, Industry, Ecological Transition, Economic Affairs, Agriculture, Finance and Foreign Affairs, as well as the Presidency of the Government and the National Intelligence Center. Its work will focus on accelerating the establishment and start-up of this public body.

Teruel’s candidacy claims that in the province they already have research and business experience in the space field. Among its strong points, it is worth noting that it is home to the Center for the Study of the Physics of the Cosmos of Aragon (CEFCA) and it also recalls that Miura 1 launch tests are being carried out at the Teruel airport, the first rocket for mini-satellites manufactured in Spain.

A rocket made in Spain

The company behind that rocket is PLD Space. The company does not want to position itself in the race to host the headquarters of the Spanish Space Agency since they not only operate in Teruel, they also work in Huelva and their headquarters are in Elche (Alicante). Given the announcement that several cities have already shown their interest in hosting the ‘Spanish NASA’, the company prefers “not to comment” on this matter.

The rocket launch tests have several phases. The first ones are being carried out in Teruel. In June, the Aragonese airport hosted the static test of the operation of the Miura 1 engine, a suborbital rocket that flies between 120 and 140 kilometers high. The next step is the launch from El Arenosillo (Huelva). “It will be the first time that we hear a countdown in Spanish at a launch, when we are used to hearing them in English or French,” Ezequiel Sánchez, executive president of the company, explained to a couple of months ago. However, it will not be until mid-2024 when a larger version of the Miura 1, the Miura 5, will be launched into orbit from the Kourou spaceport in the french guiana.

Cruzado also highlights another of the activities carried out at Teruel airport, “aircraft recycling”. In a article published in Herald of Aragon it was explained that “aluminum is the main component” of aircraft. In this reuse work “between 1,500 and 2,000” parts are extracted from each aircraft and reinstalled on other devices after evaluating each of the components.

The Aragonese province seeks to benefit from the decentralization project of state institutions launched by the central government, so that Madrid is not the only community that hosts state organizations. “Teruel could fight, by itself, objectively [para acoger la agencia] but at the moment in which the decentralization decree appears, we see that there is no excuse”, adds Díaz, who defends that “Spain has a debt” with its depopulated provinces and especially with Teruel.

Among the neighbors the candidacy is also positively received. José Polo, president of the Federation of Neighborhood Associations San Fernando de Teruel, reviews the “social importance” of this institution. He considers that the arrival in the province of the Spanish Space Agency would help to overcome “50,000 inhabitants” in the capital. In this way they would achieve one of the objectives set by social groups, since the city’s population currently amounts to 35,994 people.

The only ‘but’ that Polo puts to the candidacy is the motto. “We did not like it. It seems to us a copy of ‘From Madrid to Heaven’. I think there was little imagination, ”he indicates in conversation with this newsroom. His alternative is “Heavens, Teruel!”, An exclamation that, according to him, is made by tourists who come to the city for the first time.

In its commitment to “reinforce astrophysical tourism” and “specialize the region” in this field, according to the counselor, the regional government highlights the impact that the presence of small companies linked to this area of ​​work would have for the province. “In Teruel, an SME with 70 workers does a lot. We have towns of 15 inhabitants”, says Díaz. Currently, according to the information handled by the candidacy, “the aeronautical industrial sector” in the region generates “a turnover of more than 1,300 million euros per year and more than 7,000 jobs.”

Space race between several provinces

Teruel already has competitors in the race to become the headquarters of the Spanish Space Agency. Some of the provinces or regions that have applied are Gran Canaria, Seville, León, Granada, and Cebreros (Avila). Despite the fact that the Government of Isabel Díaz Ayuso also showed interest in hosting this institution, President Pedro Sanchez He insisted on his commitment to “deconcentrate the State” and confirmed that the agency “will be located outside the capital of Spain.”

Therefore, the rivalry transcends geographical borders and jumps to the matches. The popular Díaz Ayuso and Juan Manuel Moreno, Andalusian president, have required the central Executive that the autonomies that govern house the new space institution. His party colleague, the deputy mayor of Teruel, assures that he “understands” the claims of the rest of the provinces and defends that in this case “each one has to look after their own interests.”