THE Catalunya Space Agency’s first mission is just around the corner.

On March 20, a nanosatellite will be launched into orbit from the Cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, at 07:07 Central European Time (GMT+01:00). 

The news was announced by the regional digital policy minister, Jordi Puignero, who has said that the aim of the Catalan space programme is to ‘democratise space’, which he describes as being ‘like international waters.’

The nanosatellite, set to be the first of its kind to be sent into space, will bolster 5G technology and the Internet of Things (IoT), the network of physical objects embedded with sensors and other technologies for exchanging data over the internet.

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SPACE BASE: The Baikonur Cosmodrome, Pad 1/5

The hope is that it will help to provide better mobile phone and internet coverage to rural parts of Catalunya and perhaps lead to a reduction in ‘depopulation’ – the phenomenon whereby young people move to bigger towns or cities in search of jobs, resulting in villages of an ageing population – which is an issue in areas of so-called ‘empty Spain’.

The second nanosatellite is slated for 2022 and will serve a different, though equally important, purpose: by capturing footage of Earth through various spectral bands (atomic energy levels), it will provide scientists with data that can be used to monitor climate change and the risk of forest fires.

Both nanosatellites will have names chosen by space engineers and internet users.  

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