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Spain's PLD Space Selected for European Institutional Space Launch Contracts
This development is not just a win for PLD Space but also a strong signal to the entire European space sector. It demonstrates a growing openness to collaboration and competition, essential for fostering innovation and addressing the complex challenges of space exploration in the 21st century.
Spain's PLD Space Selected for European Institutional Space Launch Contracts
by Robert Schreiber
Berlin, Germany (SPX) Jan 25, 2024

In a significant development for the European space sector, PLD Space, a Spain-based aerospace company, has been chosen by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Commission (EC) to participate in the prestigious Flight Ticket Initiative. This program is designed to form a consortium of private launch providers to cater to the space access demands of European institutions.

PLD Space has earned the distinction of being the only Spanish company in this select group, joining the ranks of Arianespace (France), Isar Aerospace (Germany), Orbex Space (United Kingdom), and Rocket Factory Augsburg (Germany). The selection, announced at the European Space Conference in Brussels, signifies a notable shift in the European space launch landscape.

Raul Verdu, Co-founder and Chief Business Development Officer (CBDO) of PLD Space, expressed his enthusiasm about the milestone. "This milestone positions PLD Space as the only Spanish company in the global commercial launch industry," Verdu stated, underscoring the company's unique standing following this selection.

The Flight Ticket Initiative, an ambitious program by ESA and the EC, aims to establish a pool of private launch service providers. The initiative's primary focus is to meet the growing space access requirements of European institutions, particularly for missions categorized under In-Orbit Demonstration and Validation (IOD/IOV). These missions are crucial for the demonstration and validation of new technologies in space.

PLD Space's inclusion in this initiative is particularly significant as it allows the company to compete for future ESA or EC launch contracts. The recognition of PLD Space's capabilities, particularly with their MIURA 5 launch vehicle, is indicative of the company's readiness to offer market-suitable launch services by the end of 2025.

Verdu, reflecting on this development, commented, "We are delighted that, for the first time, private companies such as PLD Space, Isar, Orbex or RFA, have access to institutional launch contracts both by ESA and the European Commission. This is a very important step for the launch industry, although there is still a long way to go."

The Flight Ticket Initiative represents a paradigm shift in the European space industry. Traditionally dominated by government-led programs and a few large corporations, the initiative opens the door for more agile and innovative companies to participate in space missions. The competition among the five selected operators for each specific launch contract promises to enhance efficiency and potentially reduce costs.

Ezequiel Sanchez, Executive President of PLD Space, highlighted the importance of this shift. "This kind of initiative should be given to goal-oriented and higher-efficiency companies," he noted, emphasizing the need for the market to move towards demand orientation rather than supply favoritism.

The selection of PLD Space in the Flight Ticket Initiative is a testament to the company's growth and the increasing recognition of private companies in the global space industry. It marks a new chapter for European space endeavors, one where diverse and innovative players like PLD Space are set to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of space exploration and technology demonstration.

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