Juan Carlos Cortés, director of the Spanish Space Agency: “Space is saturated and must be regulated” | Science | EUROtoday

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The aeronautical engineer Juan Carlos Cortés (Madrid, 58 years previous) is the primary director of the brand new Spanish Space Agency. This physique goals to present “a single voice” to all of the Government's civil and army house powers, till now unfold throughout greater than ten ministries. Spain was one of many few European nations that had not but created a corporation of this sort, even though corporations and plenty of specialists have been calling for it for years.

Cortés is the fourth youngster of two humble mother and father who lived via the Civil War and instilled in him a tradition of effort. They all ended up going to school. At the age of 17, Cortés was already a pilot of motorless airplanes, though he confesses that greater than flying, what he’s keen about is fixing the technical issues that include it. To this he has devoted his greater than 30 years of profession as a supervisor of analysis and growth tasks in the primary public organizations within the discipline in Spain.

Cortés receives EL PAÍS on the company's new headquarters in Seville, a big workplace constructing owned by the Seville metropolis council, just a few steps from the Cartuja Island, the place there are nonetheless few folks and bins to be unpacked. So far, he assures, the company has crammed 70% of the 64 jobs it would have. In this interview, Cortés lists the challenges that he’ll face throughout his 5 years in workplace, amongst them the primary house legislation in our nation, which goals to arrange an more and more chaotic and polarized sector.

Ask. What does house imply to you?

Answer. Right now your entire planet is found, there aren’t any new territories left. Space is our new frontier. It is necessary as a result of it responds to the worldwide challenges of humanity. It is planetary safety in opposition to asteroids that would destroy us utterly. It additionally helps us face international challenges, pure disasters comparable to a mega volcanic eruption or a big photo voltaic storm. These options are solely doable with house techniques. And past Earth's orbit there’s house exploration, the whole lot that has to do with the Moon, the place we can have a base in a really quick time. The exploration of Mars, understanding the fossil radiation of the universe, the origin of life. Study how matter has been remodeled right into a type of consciousness that research matter. It is thrilling.

P. What position does Spain play in all this with the company?

R. Having a single voice permits us to maximise the advantages of our funding and be the only interlocutor with our companions, NASA, Japan, China. It additionally permits us to develop a coverage, a technique and an area legislation. In addition, inside the company there’s a coordination committee with the autonomous communities. We need to be formidable. The mission that India launched to the Moon price 70 million {dollars}. That is appropriate for Spain.

P. What can we stand out for?

R. We are one of many few nations able to making a satellite tv for pc from the start to operation, and shortly flying it with a Spanish launcher. There should be 10 nations on this planet able to this. We have Spainsat NG, one of the vital superior telecommunications satellites on this planet. The goal is to turn into sturdy in that area of interest of main missions, of shifting up the worth chain.

P. Do we now have any shortcomings?

R. We are the fourth house energy in Europe. Due to the funding that house calls for, most packages are carried out in cooperation. For instance, we lead the Arrakhis mission, as a result of it’s within the order of 400 million euros. However, doing a mission like BepiColombo, which matches to Mercury, is nearly 2,000 million. We don’t have any capability, neither we, nor France, nor Germany. Large corporations within the United States are 3 times as giant as European corporations. It is an issue for Europe. We want a course of of commercial consolidation now if we need to preserve our position as a world energy.

DVD1214(05/20/2024).  Seville.  The new director of the Spanish Space Agency, Juan Carlos Cortés, this Monday in Seville.  PHOTO: PACO PUENTES (EL PAÍS).
DVD1214(05/20/2024). Seville. The new director of the Spanish Space Agency, Juan Carlos Cortés, this Monday in Seville. PHOTO: PACO PUENTES (EL PAÍS).PACO PUENTES

P. Will the company present funds for it?

R. We are a administration company [de fondos], not execution. What we are going to do is ready the boundary situations for the sector to develop, however the choice to consolidate is an industrial choice.

P. What personal, nationwide tasks would you spotlight?

R. We are going to have a quantum communication satellite tv for pc. The communication community has a refreshment each 100 kilometers, which is a weak level. Distributing quantum keys from a satellite tv for pc is a completely sturdy system. The venture is to launch two demonstrators, one in low orbit and the opposite in geostationary orbit. It includes launching photons from 36,000 kilometers and gathering them, a problem that’s on the restrict of what’s doable. We have devoted 125 million and we hope to have the primary demonstrator prepared in 2025. Within the longer term packages we’re already getting ready the ministerial convention of the European Space Agency (ESA) on the finish of 2025. A multiannual finances of about 25 billion euros might be debated, when the earlier one was 17,000. Spain would put in 1,500 million. It goes to be proposed on the political degree that Europe have a launcher for manned flights. We have our personal astronaut corps, however we nonetheless rely on the United States, China or corporations.

P. Are you involved that house has been divided into two blocks, particularly for the reason that battle in Ukraine?

R. Due to the battle in Europe we now have very critical issues as a result of lack of parts, beryllium, titanium. The new geopolitical order goes to play out in house. There is just not going to be a brand new chilly battle, however clearly there are two blocs. We are within the Western bloc and reverse us we now have Russia and China. At the tip of the yr a Chinese delegation visited us and what they do is spectacular. The subsequent situation is just not going to the Moon, that’s already overcome, it’s dwelling on the Moon, establishing colonies there. It is such a hostile surroundings that even when the missions are separate, the world as an entire will collaborate.

P. Is there a authorized loophole in house?

R. Yes, and it worries us rather a lot. 13,000 satellites have already been launched; 6,000 within the final 5 years. The house is saturated and should be regulated. Right now Elon Musk is launching a barrage of satellites and astronomers are complaining as a result of they wreck the sky and the celebrities can’t be seen. But it's not simply Starlink, it's that now comes Kuiper, Jeff Bezos' constellation, after which China's after which Europe's. This is just not going to cease. We must take the reins, as a result of the house belongs to everybody. The Agency's statute already says that we now have to make an area legislation in Spain. On the opposite hand, Europe is already doing its factor.

P. When will the legislation be prepared?

R. It is a fancy matter. The Ministry of Science is main the venture. It is feasible that it could possibly be prepared subsequent yr.

P. With these legal guidelines will we be capable of cease Elon Musk or comparable tasks?

R. It's going to be rationalized. In the case you point out it is vitally easy: change its shade or supplies in order that they don’t replicate gentle, which solves the issue. Right now it’s not performed as a result of it’s cheaper. It will even be prohibited to launch a satellite tv for pc and for it to stay inert after its helpful life. It should carry a reserve of gas in order that it descends and burns upon re-entry into the ambiance.

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