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Vila do Porto ,  February 15, 2011

Santa Maria space station has become autonomous in the operation of space missions

The Santa Maria Station, integrated in the European Space Agency (ESA), has reached a level of quality and importance in the international space context. According to this assessment, it has gained operational autonomy in space missions. This fact was confirmed by the Regional Secretary for Science, Technology and Infrastructures on Tuesday morning during the visit to the space structure in the beginning of the operations to monitor the launch of the Ariane rocket.

The ESA station has already started the operations to monitor the flight of the Ariane rocket which will launch the most sophisticated spaceship of European origin, the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), ‘Johannes Kepler’, which will dock at the International Space Station; this vehicle also transports fuel, food and cargo.

The ATV ‘Johannes Kepler’ will be launched integrated in the rocket Ariane on Tuesday night from Kourou, French Guiana, and its trajectory will be monitored by the ESA station for eight minutes, during which the station will receive, via radio, telemetry data on the status of the rocket system, including propulsion, navigation and guidance, thus determining the exact trajectory of the rocket.

This mission, one of the three to take place in 2011, is the confirmation of the important role played by that station Azorean and demonstrates, stressed José Contente, “the centrality of the station. It is with these qualifying projects that we assert the operationalisation of our geostrategic position in this Atlantic region.”

The Regional Secretary also stressed the integration of qualified Azorean professionals in the European project that is being carried out on the island of Santa Maria. The technical team is being expanded, integrating local qualified resources as a result of the growing operation of this station.

In this context, the Secretary stressed that “nowadays several technicians are working here and some of them are even from Azorean companies, such as the case of SEGMA, and there are other technicians working with EDISOFT, a Portuguese company, in the context of the North Atlantic Maritime Surveillance Centre, which will reinforce the role of both ESA and EDISOFT on Santa Maria and after this project, others will come.”

In the next five years, the activity of the Azorean space station will be intense with the monitoring of different space missions, including the participation in the launch of the Galileo constellation and also of VEGA.
“We are very hopeful that the future Galileo project may also bring new areas to Santa Maria,” José Contente stated, adding that there are several work proposals concerning the implementation of these projects in which the Regional Government is involved. In this context, he mentioned the 25 million Euro investment in VLBI stations (Very Long Baseline Interferometry), related to Geodesy and Radio Astronomy; one will be installed on Santa Maria and another on Flores.
“This space cluster has registered a sustainable growth in the Azores,” stated the Regional Secretary, based on the promotion of qualified jobs that bring another type of potentialities.”

“We should not forget that Santa Maria is on the world map thanks to this station, bringing technicians to the island as well as other economic activities, such as tourism, which may be also enhanced with the organisation of conferences and other type of wide-ranging projects” that will be important for the future of the Azores, which also includes space technology, added José Contente.


Official government press-releases presented in all foreign languages interfaces of the Azorean Government Portal (Portal do Governo dos Açores) are a sub-set of the government's official press-releases daily output and are chosen for translation and publication on the foreign language interfaces based on audience segmentation criteria. The entire collection of the Azorean government press-releases is available in portuguese, here, from the GACS Press Office site.

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