At the summit, which is part of the celebrations of the fifth centenary of Fernão de Magalhães’ circumnavigation voyage that is marked in 2019, Ricardo Conde said that Portugal is “a nation of explorers” that wants to continue this ambition “from the depths of the oceans to space”.

“We have all the conditions for that: we are an Atlantic nation, rich in territorial terms. Even if most of it is ocean, we must take advantage of this raw material,” he stressed.

To achieve this goal, the Portuguese Space Agency intends, with Europe’s help, to develop new data policies, expand teleport capacity, access European scientific programmes and build an Atlantic constellation of satellites to obtain knowledge and create new security applications for communications.

“We want [in the Azores] an ecological project of access to space, it is an ambition that I hope we can start still this year” through the development of “new vehicles, the Space Riders, that will allow living experiences in space and that will allow us to achieve our dreams”, exposed Ricardo Conde.

The Space Rider appears in the context of an “ecosystem” that is being created in the Azorean island of Santa Maria, which already has structures such as the teleport and where a 15-metre antenna dedicated to the collection of scientific data that will allow the understanding of climate change was inaugurated on 27 April.

The contract for the installation and operation of the Santa Maria Spaceport is expected to go out to tender this year, so that work can begin in 2022, with the inaugural flight scheduled for 2023, Ricardo Conde told Lusa in April.

At the Glex Summit, the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor, stated that the “space transforms the economy” and that it “provides a unique framework for new ideas, new ways of producing advanced materials and developing new products”.

Portugal is “facilitating access to all those who want to go into space to create new ideas that impact people and our daily lives, from precision agriculture, to fisheries, to control of the seas,” Manuel Heitor said.

“There are no limits to space exploration, to observe the earth and look at outer space, make it a laboratory,” he concluded.