A micro rocket built by a Spanish company will lift off within several weeks, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Saturday, a first for Spain as a space race hots up in Europe.
"This rocket, when it is launched, we Spaniards we will all watch it on television and I know that when, within several weeks MIURA1 will begin its journey, the devotion and hard work of many people ... will have been worthwhile," Sanchez said at the El Arenosillo launch site at Huelva, in Andalusia.
PLD Space's MIURA1 sub-orbital launcher is intended to carry out up to four missions a year and possibly take cargo "into space and bring it back safely", according to the startup's website.
"Your dream is shared by all of Spanish society because we are led by a common goal, that is to put Spain at the forefront of this space transport industry, which is not only emerging but also powerful," the PM added.
PLD Space president Ezequiel Sanchez said the launch showcases Spain's capabilities in the sector.
"Spain is demonstrating its technological leadership in Europe by supplying the capacity which may enable us to be at the head of the strategic sector for small satellites," he said.
After MIURA1, the company plans to develop in 2024 a re-usable small launch vehicle, dubbed MIURA5, to put small satellites into orbit.
Launch pads are springing up across Europe as the small rocket market takes off after decades of institutional dominance by national space agencies.
Besides Spain, Britain, Portugal, Germany and Iceland are all running projects to put satellites into orbit.
Sanchez's announcement came on the same day the world's first 3D printed rocket, built by California aerospace startup Relativity Space, was to blast off from Cape Canaveral, Florida.