“On 14 May I will be in the Azores for the inauguration of the operations centre that puts Portugal at the forefront of a European system and has military and civilian utility," said Minister João Gomes Cravinho, during a visit to the Institute of Telecommunications in Aveiro, with which the Ministry of Defence has a partnership in the field of space.

The new operations centre will be installed in the Terceira Island Science and Technology Park in the Azores, where the first Portuguese telescope dedicated to space surveillance operations is also located, which went into operation in October 2020.

The system also includes a second telescope in the Azores and two telescopes in Madeira, in addition to a telescope and radar in Pampilhosa da Serra, in the district of Coimbra.

This equipment will operate in an automated way and the respective data will be forwarded to the operations centre that will centralise all the information.

The SST project is a European programme that aims to monitor, characterise and follow up objects in the vicinity of the Earth that may pose a real danger, either to the infrastructures in orbit, such as satellites, or to the safety of citizens.

"Space is full of objects, what we call space junk, that jeopardise satellites and pose a danger to our communications systems and therefore we need to keep control over what is in space," the minister said.

The SST programme, which the Ministry of National Defence leads at a national level, also aims to build Portugal's capacity in sensitive and technologically differentiated areas, creating and establishing competences that contribute to greater national and international security in space, and that strengthen the national presence in European space policy.

In addition to Portugal, the European SST consortium includes France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Poland, Romania and Italy.