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Five Portuguese companies were contracted by ESA to develop the new Copernicus satellites

The terrestrial observation program Copernicus has been helping scientists to respond to challenges such as climate change, natural disasters or even to understand the changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, five Portuguese companies have won contracts from the European Space Agency for six new Copernicus missions that represent the development of at least 12 satellites, advances Lusa.

The contracts are part of the investment assumed by ESA and the European Union for a total value of 2.5 billion euros. According to the space agency Portugal Space, the chosen ones were Active Space Technologies, Critical Software, Deimos Engenharia, Frezite High Performance and the Institute of Science and Innovation in Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Engineering (INEGI). The companies will develop some of the components of the new Copernicus program missions, including new satellites.

After Portugal subscribed five million euros to Copernicus in the last ministerial council of the European Space Agency, the reward now comes with contracts valued at ten million euros, Portugal Space said in a press release.

The new missions were designed to fill existing gaps and expand the current capabilities of the program's space segment, explained the Portuguese space agency. When they arrive in space, the new satellites will collect data that will allow a better understanding of climatic processes, leading to decisions that allow to mitigate the impact of the effects of Man on terrestrial and maritime ecosystems.

Funding for the full development of Copernicus is dependent on the negotiation of the European Union's next Multiannual Financial Framework. The decision to contract the construction of the new satellites came after ESA member states had approved and subscribed to the new phase of the program at the Space19 + Ministerial Conference in late 2019.

At the meeting, Portugal subscribed a total of five million euros from Copernicus, with the aim of giving Portuguese companies the opportunity to lead the development of relevant subsystems for missions, reminds Portugal Space.

Portuguese companies are expanding their presence in projects with increasingly added value and also moving up the value chain, thus reinforcing the Portuguese space sector, said Portugal Space President Chiara Manfletti, saying that this is a position that in the short term it will require more human resources, with higher qualifications.

One of the main objectives of the Portuguese space agency is to create new highly qualified jobs, and the choice of five Portuguese companies in the context of Copernicus means that we are working on the right path, reinforced Chiara Manfletti.

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