The head of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Bill Nelson, visited Seville on Monday and then will travel to Madrid to ratify the collaboration agreements between this entity, the main aeronautics in the world, and the newly created Spanish Space Agency (AEE). based in the Andalusian capital. Nelson's presence responds to the collaboration agreements between the governments of the United States and Spain, which include scientific and technological cooperation, as well as Spanish participation in Artemis, the international program led by NASA, to resume lunar exploration, return astronauts to the satellite and, in the future, attempt the jump to Mars.
The director general of the Spanish Space Agency, Miguel Belló, said that the meeting aims to "deepen" the collaboration that Spain and the US will maintain for the next missions to the Moon and Mars. "The United States returns to the moon, but it does not do it alone. He returns with an international team that Spain is joining now," Belló said. Further meetings are planned for June in Poland and the United Kingdom to continue work on new space missions.
Belló has also clarified that the ordering of the concentration of satellites is another objective of the talks, due to the "proliferation of megaconstellations." It would be a big disaster if we have problems using the space," he warned. Therefore, one of the lines of work that we want to address with NASA is to "order space traffic".
Nelson, for his part, has detailed that Spain already plays an important role in the construction of rovers (robots) for Mars and that this role will be reinforced with its participation in missions to the Moon, where the objective is to reach the southern part in search of water, and Mars. After his visit to Seville, he will hold meetings with the Minister of Science, Diana Morant; the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, and King Felipe VI. As an anecdote, Nelson recalled that his home state, Florida, was discovered by Ponce de León.
Artemis brings together, under the initiative of NASA, private companies – among which are Space X, of Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, and Blue Origin (of Jeff Bezos, creator of Amazon) – and the space agencies of Europe (ESA), Japan (JAXA) and Canada (CSA). The objective is to take a man and, for the first time, a woman back to the lunar soil to resume the exploration of the satellite, advance in the possibility of establishing a permanent base at the south pole of this, supported by an orbital station, and use this infrastructure as a vanguard for the conquest of Mars.
The 'Miura 1' rocket, ready to take off and open the first Spanish door to space
Two Spaniards are among the astronauts chosen by ESA to be part of the program: aeronautical engineer Pablo Álvarez and biotechnologist Sara García, selected by the European agency among 22,500 candidates to be part of the team that aspires to return to the Moon and become the first Spanish astronauts since 1992.
The ESA established in Seville four years ago its priorities for this decade, among which is the European participation in the return to the Moon. In this sense, Europe participates in the construction of an orbital station on the satellite, which will be fundamental for the exploration and subsequent arrival on Mars.
The European agency also contributes to the manufacture of the service module of the Orion capsule, as well as other key elements of the international program, such as the Heracles project, a system that will serve as a bridge between the orbital station and the Moon.
ESA also set the growth of the Earth observation satellite scheme as a priority objective. Since, according to the then Minister of Science, Pedro Duque, "space has proven to be essential to provide data that allow us to scientifically understand the facts and make informed decisions."
Belló and Nelson, during the meeting. María José López (Europa Press)
On May 5, during the visit of the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, to his American counterpart Joe Biden at the White House, Spain announced its individual incorporation into the Artemis program beyond participation as part of ESA.
Spain's collaboration with NASA dates back to 1964, when the Spanish facilities in Robledo de Chavela were a fundamental part of the communications of the space program that took man to the Moon.
Spanish Space Agency
The Council of Ministers chose last December the city of Seville as the headquarters of the Spanish Space Agency. The Andalusian capital has arranged a headquarters, valued at 6.7 million euros, which today has visited the general administrator of NASA, and is the core of a regional network of companies in the aerospace sector, with 152 entities throughout the community, 64 of them in the capital itself. To this is added the existence of four universities, 22 research groups and five public bodies linked to space.
The creation of this agency was an old demand of the sector so that Spain had a unique vision around the space sector and an organization that coordinated and gave stability to the initiatives.
In addition to aeronautical participation, both governments have agreed to expand scientific cooperation in advanced research programs and the exchange of experts in fields such as quantum computing, where three Spaniards are at the head of the main companies in the sector: Sergio Boixo, from Google Quantum Artificial Intelligence (AI); Dario Gil, IBM vice president and director of (IBM Research); and Antia Lamas of the Center for Quantum Networking at Amazon Web Services (AWS).
You can follow MATERIA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.