MADRID — Spain requires a national strategy to grow and nurture its military space-industrial potential, and stand out as a European leader in the nascent domain, according to a small satellite company leader.

The nation needs to increase its investment rates to match those of its neighbors, said Satlantis CEO Juan Tomás Hernani during a defense and space-themed panel Wednesday at the second biennial FEINDEF conference in Madrid, Spain.

“When it comes to development of our own resources, what we see is that we are at 20 percent of Italy’s investment, [and] at similar figures compared to France,” he asserted.

It’s impossible for Spain to be a leader in the space industry if it continues to spend a fraction of what its fellow Europeans spend, Hernani said. What’s more, now is the moment to take advantage of the “major disruption” taking place across the space sector with regard to miniaturization, advanced computing technologies and diminished launch costs, he added.

Satlantis, which is based in Bilbao, specializes in building high-resolution Earth-observation optical payloads for small satellites. In 2020, the company installed a miniaturized Earth observation camera aboard the International Space Station.

As the “new space” industry expands in the United States and in select other European nations, Spain must move quickly to get involved, or run the risk of losing out on technological sovereignty, Hernani said.

“The question we have to ask ourselves as a country is: How are we doing in this sector?” he said.

Vivienne Machi is a reporter based in Stuttgart, Germany, contributing to Defense News' European coverage. She previously reported for National Defense Magazine, Defense Daily, Via Satellite, Foreign Policy and the Dayton Daily News. She was named the Defence Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2020.