The process that marks the true beginning of the creation of the Spanish Space Agency is very reminiscent of the founding of a musical formation in the classical repertoire, which comes closest to the collegial body of a cross-section.
The conductor and the musicians who compose space area has already been selected and the single orchestra has just been formed on 11 July at the headquarters of the Ministry of Science and Innovation in Madrid. The introductory session consisted of an exchange of ideas, a review of the objectives, the setting of the calendar, and the establishment of the basic criteria for writing the score and the libretto into a composition of which we do not yet know whether it will become a composition. symphony, an opera or a zarzuela.
The number of musicians in the Council is not sufficient to form a symphony orchestra, but far exceeds that of a chamber orchestra. He is composed of 18 virtuoso soloists of wind instruments, string and percussion, which in this case are engineers, military, scientists and others, which guarantees a wide range of musical instruments and therefore the richness of the sound of the ensemble.
No less than 11 departments is represented in the Space Council, sometimes two or even three times, as well as two other institutions – the National Intelligence Center and the presidency of the government – which guarantee the melodic richness and nuances of the resulting work.
All those present at the first meeting came with good intentions and are aware of the heavy responsibility they have in their hands. They are aware of the duty to create a national organization that encompasses the responsibilities that have been spread for decades among too many departments and that represent Spain in international fora. Virtually all musicians assume these goals, but some try to combine them with the defense of responsibilities that their respective departments may have monopolized for years.
A serious and strict mission for a serious and strict man
The man who holds the baton, the conductor, the one who has the greatest weight in terms of the durability of the final score, is there to approach, unite and lay down the few autonomous positions. The person whom the Minister of Science and Education, Diana Morant, has chosen to fill the post of Chairman of the Space Council is Miguel Belló, who combines his training as an aeronautical engineer with the training of a businessman, and who has been the Commissioner of Aerospace LOSS since 5 July.
A man with documented leadership skills and great pedagogical and communicative qualities, he is responsible for giving form and content to the new Board. When I know him and know his background, I know that he will perform the work entrusted to him, with parameters in accordance with the current and future reality of the national space ecosystem. And by that it’s not about creating a NASA or others, not even a CNES, DLR or ASI, the space agencies of France, Germany and Italy respectively.
Belló is responsible for speeding up the process of establishing the new organization. The President of the Government was very clear in his speech on June 9 at NASA’s deep space surveillance complex in Robledo de Chavela (Madrid). Pedro Sánchez called on the government to “speed up” the work so that the Spanish space agency is “operational by early 2023”. And on January 1st, there are … five and a half months and a scorching summer in sight!
Miguel Belló is not a man who has to give way to great challenges. With a clear head and a good knowledge of the national and international space sector, in recent years, and up to his employment as Commissioner for Aerospace LOSS, he was CEO of the Atlantic International Research Center (AIR Center). This is a project promoted by Manuel Heitor, who for seven years and until just over three months ago was the Portuguese Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, and whose adviser and confidant in matters of ultra-terrestrial was Belló.
The engineer, the teacher and the leader at the helm have the initiative and the vision. This is evident from the fact that he was the first CEO of a private Spanish company to decide to enter the commercial market for Earth observation satellite. And he managed to put not one, but two platforms into circulation, which he concretized in the late 1990s -Deimos 1 and in the early 2000s -Deimos 2 – in the facilities for development, manufacturing, monitoring and control, as his company, Elecnor Deimos, built in Puertollano (Ciudad Real), his birthplace.
Neither Herbert von Karajan nor Richard Wagner
Among the instrumentalists that make up this unique ensemble are important soloists on violin, cello, trumpet, clarinet, oboe, flute, bassoon … There are e.g. Teresa Riesgo, Secretary General of Innovation in the Ministry of Science and Innovation. She is the first vice-president of the council, that is, the equivalent of the 1st violin in a symphony orchestra. She is accompanied by a prestigious scientist who knows very well how the most important space organizations in the world work and who has visited several of them: Álvaro Giménez.
From 2011 to 2017, the astrophysicist led the scientific management of the European Space Agency (ESA), an organization for which he was previously director of its space science department and coordinator of its science policy. He was also the Director General of the National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA) between 1995 and 1997, full professor of astrophysics at the Complutense University of Madrid and researcher at the Department of Astrophysics in Andalusia.
Among the distinguished soloists are alsot the Chief of Staff of the Second Air Force, Air Corps General Ignacio Bengoechea, Second Vice-President, and PERTE Commissioner for Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, Carmen Librero, Third Vice-President. The inaugural meeting took place in the presence of the Director – General of INTA, Lieutenant General Julio Ayuso, who took office in May, but who for the previous three years served as Deputy Director – General Coordination and Plans for the Institute and knows in detail its human and technological capabilities.
Another top assistant is Juan Carlos Cortes, Director of Aerospace, Large Facilities and Dual Programs at the recently renamed Center for Technological Development and Innovation, which retains its acronym CDTI. His in-depth knowledge of the national industrial sector, ESA and the major European and global agencies makes him an indispensable member of the orchestra as it begins its journey.
It is clear that Miguel Belló is not going to conduct the orchestra he has in his hands with his eyes closed, like Herbert von Karajan. Nor with Richard Wagner’s energy. But his wand and his left hand will have to synchronize the different musical styles that the soloists around him have performed so far. As a scientist, he is fully aware that his goal is to bring to life the space orchestra that Spain needs, so as not to be left behind in the new scenario that threatens the horizon. , where it is more important than ever to be present in space.