Introduction

Knowledge of the space that surrounds us has been one of the first applications of the human mind during its evolution. Forecasting the cycles that influence Earth’s dynamics, trying to understand the laws that govern appearance and disappearance of the celestial bodies in the sky, explaining singular phenomena (eclipses, meteorite rains, position, size and colour of the Moon, …) and their relationship with mankind has been and still is one of the scientific tasks with a greatest commitment. Since the first Persian, Mayan, Indian and Chinese observatories, until the powerful radio-antennas systems for deep space research, man has been improving his observing and testing instruments. This way, we have been able to understand better -and begin to venture in- this immense frontier. Today we know that the origin of life lies within phenomena that are still happening in the universe. The future of mankind goes through, undoubtedly, this better knowledge of outer space.

Astrophysics has been developed in a vertiginous way, and the observation instruments placed on Earth as well as those placed in satellites provide us with a great amount of data that not only moves forward our general knowledge but also have an immediate application in our daily life. This way, geo-positioning applications are possible thanks to the equipment and instruments that, placed in the space, synchronize the deviations predicted by Einstein; the study of sea salinity, through the instruments placed in satellites, allows the forecasting of the variation in sea currents that affect coasts and estuaries, fishing and sailing; the knowledge of the composition of the atmosphere and other planet’s nuclei will allow the beginning of terraforming processes; the development of new materials, and also optics and control systems for great telescopes, find a quick application in daily life; etc.

Observatorio de Calar Alto

The Space Sciences that study and try to solve the very different problems that the absence of atmosphere or exotic atmospheres represent for life as we know it, as well as the equipment that has been developed, are also a very important part of this segment that in Science Industry we call Astrophysics and Space Sciences.

Spain plays an important role in the development of this segment in a worldwide context. The Roque de los Muchachos (La Palma, Canary Islands) accommodates one of the biggest telescopes in the world, the GRANTECAN, in whose construction participated and still contribute a big amount of Spanish Science Industry companies; several subsystems of SMOS satellite (for Earth study) were built by INDRA Sistemas, S.A.; one of the first instruments that will be added to the JWST is the MIRI (Mid Infrared Instrument) in which INTA has participated along with some other Spanish companies. Other examples of Spanish Industry are the robotic arms for space work, the instruments for great telescopes (MEGARA and MIRADAS), engineering and fabrication of structures (ASTURFEITO S.A, SENER S.A.), specific applications (FRACTAL, SLNE; NTE-SENER, SA; AVS, SL; etc.), etc. In the same manner, the Astrophysics Institutes in Andalusia and Canary Islands are institutions with an international reputation, and the scientific production of Spanish astrophysicists is among the most prolific and intense in the world. Spain has astronomic observatories in La Palma and Teide (Canary Islands), Calar Alto (Almería), Yebes (Guadalajara), Sierra Nevada and IRAM (Granada), etc.

This is why Spanish Science Industry is highly capable to contribute with designs and products of the highest level to the market of the great telescopes, radioantennas, instrumentation and equipment for satellites, etc. The Spanish Science Industry participates in the majority of the great international projects as an associate country and as equipment and complete facilities supplier.