H.E. Minister Arancha González Laya visits SatCen
On 7 July 2021, SatCen had the distinct honour of welcoming H.E. Arancha González Laya, Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation. The delegation included Ms Alejandra del Río Novo, Director of Cabinet for the State Secretary for International Cooperation, Mr Fidel Sendagorta, Director General for Foreign Affairs and Security, and representatives from the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The visit, which followed an initial high-level meeting at the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs last year, served as an opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of the Centre and display the facilities and work performed from the Torrejon Airbase in Madrid.
In a comprehensive introduction of SatCen, Director Sorin Ducaru discussed the strategic aspect of space, underlining the agency’s operational crossover of providing both Security from Space, through its core mission of geospatial analysis, and Security of Space, through its role as Front Desk of the EU SST.
Being at the forefront of the space and security dimension, Amb. Ducaru addressed SatCen’s culture of innovation, highlighting the cutting edge technologies developed and used in the operational setting of the Centre.
The Director discussed SatCen’s level of ambition and future vision, expressing gratitude to the Spanish Minister for the host nation’s strong support for the agency and its staff.
Mr Alvaro Rodríguez, Head of Operations, briefed on the Agency’s use of space-based assets, highlighting SatCen’s ability to provide analysis tailored to specific topics of national interest and the direct support provided by the Centre to Spain. Among other topics, Mr Rodriguez underlined the growing importance and implications of “pooling and sharing” and the unique approach SatCen has in this regard.
Additionally, the Minister was shown technical examples of operational support to both national and international missions. Ms Gema Maza, Copernicus SEA Team Leader, discussed Copernicus Service in Support to EU External Actions (SEA), with a mention of the participation of Spanish companies, and provided examples of support to humanitarian aid and refugee camps monitoring.
Along these lines, Mr Epifanio Pecharromán, IMINT Team Leader, reminded the Minister of the Centre’s contributions to relevant missions such as EUNAVFOR MED IRINI (monitoring the Libyan arms embargo), EUTM Mali (training mission in Mali) and EU NAVFOR Somalia - Operation Atalanta (monitoring piracy operations), among others.
Mr Joao Alves, Head of the SSA Unit, discussed the Centre’s unique role as EU SST Front Desk and its contributing mission of providing Security of Space. As EU SST Front Desk, SatCen monitors what is happening in space and provides key SST services to users such as analysis on collision avoidance, fragmentation analysis and re-entry prediction. Mr Alves exemplified the work of the Centre by illustrating a recent re-entry monitoring campaign.
The highly substantial visit concluded with a tour of the premises and a look at the building extension construction, expected to be finished by next year, in time for the 30th anniversary.
H.E. Minister Arancha González Laya expressed clear interest and support for the activities and work performed by the Centre and its staff, stating:
“Thank you, SatCen for the great job of translating European strategic autonomy to insights on the ground. The fact that you are in Torrejón de Ardoz, Madrid, makes us proud. It is an example of how Spain contributes to a stronger European Union on the international stage. You can count on our full support.”
"The EU Satellite Centre is an excellent example of what strategic autonomy means in Europe. (...) What this Satellite hub of the EU does is provide credibility about the role of the EU as a strong actor in international relations, fostering peace, security and ensuring the defence of EU interests and values, all of this from Madrid Spain. It is a great pleasure to be an active actor in constructing the EU of the future".