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COPERNICUS: INEGI wins 1.5 M€ contract from the European Space Agency to create technologies for space

27 July 2020

INEGI is one of 5 Portuguese entities selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop equipment for space missions under the Copernicus program. The 1.5 million euro contract will focus on creating equipment for testing space satellites.

These satellites are the basis of the Copernicus program, a European environmental monitoring initiative that will, through this equipment, collect operational information about the world, the oceans and the atmosphere to support the European Union's environmental policies.

The competition launched by ESA is part of the Copernicus High Priority Missions, the next phase of the Copernicus program, and is a joint venture between ESA and the European Commission in the space sector, co-financed by both institutions.

In total there are 2.5 billion euros in development contracts for 6 future space missions, which require the construction of 12 new European satellites. According to the Portugal Space Agency, the country, through INEGI and Active Space Technologies, Critical Software, Deimos Engenharia, and FHP, collects contracts with a total of 10 million euros.

INEGI's experience capital in the Space sector was decisive

In the hands of INEGI's team of specialists is the development of equipment that will allow ESA to carry out various tests on the systems to be used for monitoring the surface temperature of the oceans, ice concentration and salinity of the sea. "We will carry out tests in which we already have experience such as functional tests, repeatability and thermal-elastic distortion of folding systems and structures, namely, articulated arms and reflectors. The work for which we are responsible will validate the performance and technical requirements of ground systems, in order to characterize their operation in orbit, before launching into space”, explains Ricardo Lopes, member of INEGI’s team dedicated to the Copernicus program.

José Sampaio, responsible for the Innovation and Technology Transfer area at INEGI, points out that the project "proves the recognition of our ability to contribute to the construction of space equipment and to reinforce European independence in space”. He further states that the contract is "the result of work carried out in the last six years on high quality and complex projects in this context", since INEGI has been working with ESA, and with other key players in the sector, in the development of equipment and technologies for space missions.

The LEA - Large European Antenna project, still ongoing, under which INEGI is developing equipment that will test and validate the operation in the space of the first large European folding antenna, one of the most indispensable and critical technologies for satellites of the future, is an example of INEGI's accumulated experience, which is directly reflected in the work that will now be developed for the Copernicus program.