Someone, sometime in 1966, decided that Spain had an important role to play in space. Since then, we have come a long way and in parallel Airbus has been the leading company in the space sector in Spain.

In all this time, Airbus has been present in all the major milestones that have shaped space in our country. We have paved the way in satellites and started the venture in launchers. We are pioneers in the use of carbon fibre and were the first to make the leap into systems work, being the only Spanish company with the necessary capabilities for the development and construction of large satellites.

Satellite PAZ

The potential developed thanks to the dedication and high qualification of our teams has made Airbus the reference company in cutting-edge space technologies in Spain. This leadership entails the commitment to be a driving force in the space sector that generates jobs and technological wealth, for other companies, universities and research institutions.


Earth observation is one of Airbus' strengths in Spain. It is prime contractor for a new ESA Copernicus mission. This is an environmental-monitoring mission called LSTM (Land Surface Temperature Monitoring) which aims to provide global measurements of the Earth's surface temperature to make, among other things, agricultural production on farms more sustainable.

LSTM is the first Copernicus mission awarded to a Spanish company demonstrating ESA's confidence in Airbus as a reliable partner for its major missions. The industrial consortium comprises more than 45 companies and institutions from up to 18 different countries.


Also for observation is the Spanish radar satellite PAZ, which was launched in 2018. It carries Spanish radar technology to produce high-resolution images. It is 5 metres high and weighs 1,400 kg. To build it, Airbus led a consortium of 15 companies and 3 universities.

The Spanish observation satellite INGENIO with optical technology was also led by Airbus, which selected a group of 10 Spanish companies to carry out its construction. It had two high-resolution cameras, one in the panchromatic band and 4 multispectral bands. Unfortunately, it was lost at launch and never reached orbit. However, its legacy lives on as its construction was a great enabler for the Spanish industry in becoming more competitive.

Last but not least, Airbus in Spain has contributed instruments and payloads to other missions such as: the MIRAS radiometer for the SMOS soil-moisture monitoring mission, the Sentinel-3 microwave radiometer, and two key instruments (the SCA antenna and ICI radiometer) for Europe’s next generation weather satellites, MetOp-SG.


Telecommunications satellites also benefit from Airbus' technical expertise in Spain. More than 150 telecommunications satellites currently in orbit incorporate platform structures, reflector antennas, electronic units, cabling, thermal control and mechanisms made in-house. A first in European commercial communications is the active antenna that Airbus developed for Eutelsat Quantum satellite, which can be electronically reconfigured in orbit, with beam-hopping capability, giving the operator maximum flexibility to control the radio frequency beams in the coverage area using commands from the ground.


In secure communications for governmental use, Airbus in Spain developed its first active antenna for the Spainsat satellite. Now, it has gone a step further by developing the most technologically advanced payloads for the SpainSat NG satellites that represent the largest space programme ever launched in the country. Airbus was contracted by Hisdesat to lead the construction of these two satellites. Airbus designs and builds the X-band payload, which uses an active antenna system with in-orbit reconfiguration capability, offering greater flexibility thanks to digital redirection of the beams depending on the coverage needs at any given moment. The antenna also has anti-jamming capability, to steer away from intentional or unintentional interference.


In Science and Exploration, Airbus' contribution in Spain has been prolific and inspiring with involvement in missions to Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and Mars.

The Airbus sites in Madrid manufactured the structure for the Huygens probe, which in January 2005 descended into the atmosphere of Titan, Saturn's largest moon, discovering for the first time an extra-terrestrial world full of methane. After releasing its re-entry shield, with the help of a parachute it made a huge number of measurements and images during its descent before landing on the surface.


Other adventures such as: chasing a comet (Rosetta), mapping 1.8 billion stars in the Milky Way (GAIA), or going to Mercury while slowing down to avoid being absorbed by the gravitational pull of the Sun (BepiColombo) have been a technological experience that has been richly rewarded. 

The most important contribution in this field is undoubtedly the CHEOPS mission or the exoplanet hunter. It was launched into space in December 2019 and with its telescope characterises planets orbiting nearby stars with high-precision photogrammetry. Its results have exceeded scientific expectations, especially for Europe's first exoplanetary mission.

Airbus' most recent scientific venture in Spain is the joint European-Chinese mission SMILE. Its objective is to monitor the space weather around the Earth produced by the interaction of the solar wind with the Earth's magnetosphere.


For satellites to be useful, they have to be placed into orbit. This requires a very powerful means of transport that can take them out of Earth’s atmosphere by overcoming its gravitational pull. To do this and reach orbit, it is necessary to acquire a speed of 7.2 km/sec. In Europe, the Ariane 5 launcher has been the workhorse, capable of launching two 5.5 tonne satellites into orbit. In Madrid, the large structures that make up the upper stage of the launcher were produced with carbon fibre technology.

Ariane 5
Ariane 6

The next step is the new Ariane 6 launcher, which is already in production and its maiden flight is scheduled for mid-2024. Airbus will continue to build the upper stage structures at the Getafe complex, with the new state-of-the-art 4.0 facility, featuring a Pulse Line for manufacturing and assembly. In addition, Airbus in Spain produces parts of American and Japanese launchers (Falcon-9, H2A and H3). In recent years, the company has become a world reference for payload adapters and dispensers for multiple satellite launches.

Once out in space, we come across the International Space Station (ISS). The ISS is Earth’s science laboratory in space. There, countless experiments have been carried out leading to scientific discoveries that improve our life on Earth, such as: human physiology, life sciences, space medicine, materials science, physics of liquid and solid states, and plasma research. More than 1,800 experiments have been carried out in the Airbus-built European Columbus laboratory alone. 

The ISS has windows for astronauts to make observations of the Earth and monitor installation of new elements on the station with the robotic arm. Nodes 1 and 3 of the station have seven windows that must be protected against any impact from micro-meteorites. Airbus in Spain supplied the shutters that protect these windows, which open and close from the inside using special sealing mechanisms.

Airbus in Spain also contributed to construction of the five European ATV space freighters (electronic structures and units) that delivered materials and supplies to the ISS.

Airbus is currently supplying electronic units for the Orion ESM capsule used for the Artemis missions that control the thermal environment of all the spacecraft's equipment to ensure its smooth operation and the comfort of the astronauts. It is also developing control units for the HALO habitation module of the future Lunar Gateway station.




Airbus' commitment in Spain is not limited to harnessing the benefits of space to improve life on Earth, but goes beyond that. One task we consider essential is the dissemination of space knowledge to the younger generations to promote passion for science and space.

Airbus encourages its employees to make presentations during the World Space Week to schools, colleges, universities, institutes or associations to explain what space activities are, the benefits to society and to convey their enthusiasm for working in this industry. These talks, workshops and conferences inspire youngsters not only to look at space but also to take interest in science. Given the high demand in schools, Airbus in Spain does not limit itself to that particular week and helps its ambassadors throughout the year, with their message reaching more than five thousand young people every year.

El centro de Madrid-Barajas acoge las principales actividades espaciales de Airbus en España. Aquí es donde se han construido los dos satélites españoles de observación de la Tierra (PAZ e Ingenio) y también el primer satélite de la ESA que lidera España (el cazador de exoplanetas CHEOPS). Ha demostrado ser un socio fiable para la ESA en todos los campos: observación de la Tierra, telecomunicaciones, ciencia y exploración, infraestructura orbital y lanzadores.




Es la única empresa del sector con la capacidad de diseñar y construir satélites de gran tamaño como contratista principal. Sus instalaciones de fabricación, montaje ensayos, integración y verificación en área limpia, son únicas en España. Su organización está plenamente cualificada para liderar grandes programas de la ESA, el Ministerio de Industria a través del CDTI y el Ministerio de Defensa a través de Hisdesat.




La participación en el programa Ariane comprende grandes estructuras en fibra de carbono realizadas en una sola pieza. El paso de Ariane 5 a Ariane 6 ha requerido la construcción de nuevas instalaciones 4.0 de última generación en la planta de Getafe, con una Pulse Line de fabricación y montaje de Ariane 6 (22,000 m2). Cuando se piensa en grande, se piensa en Airbus.


Ariane 5

A 25 km al norte de Madrid se encuentra el centro de Tres Cantos de Airbus. Está especializado desde 1985 en diseñar y fabricar equipos electrónicos y software para satélites, lanzadores, infraestructura orbital y vehículos de transporte espacial. También realiza actividades que incluyen proyectos de ingeniería para estaciones terrenas.

España ha ido a Marte en varias ocasiones de la mano de los centros de Tres Cantos y de Barajas de Airbus que han aportado su tecnología para las misiones de la NASA y la ESA.


Mars Rover


Airbus en Tres Cantos desarrolló la estación meteorológica REMS para el rover de exploración a Marte, Curiosity de la NASA. La misión Insight también contó con estos sensores meteorológicos. Ahora contribuye también al nuevo rover Perseverance de la misión Mars 2020 con otra estación meteorológica (MEDA) con aún más prestaciones que cuenta con una unidad de control y diversos sensores repartidos por el vehículo para medir parámetros como la presión atmosférica, humedad relativa del aire, radiación ultravioleta del sol, velocidad y dirección del viento y la temperatura del aire y del suelo. El centro de Barajas en cambio, suministró la antena de alta ganancia (con mecanismo Gimball) con la que los róver se pueden comunicar con Tierra sin necesidad de mover el vehículo, basta con orientar la antena. Así mismo, ambos centros de Airbus han participado en las misiones Mars-Express y ExoMars de la ESA suministrando estructuras, unidades electrónicas, antenas y escudos térmicos.


Mars express

La sede de Connected Intelligence en España se encuentra en Barcelona. Allí se desarrollan distintas actividades, todas ellas relacionadas con la geoinformación. Una de las especialidades de nuestro equipo es la elaboración de todo tipo de cartografía, principalmente 3D, incluyendo mapas topográficos para los mercados civil y militar, cartografía urbana y por supuesto cartografía aeronáutica de aeropuertos y generación de bases de datos de obstáculos en el terreno. Desde este centro se realizan también otras actividades, como proyectos de consultoría cartográfica, de Sistemas de Información Geográfica, y también desarrollo de software. El departamento comercial se encuentra en el centro de Madrid-Barajas y tiene como misión, comercializar en España y Portugal los productos y servicios del portfolio de Connected Intelligence.




Dentro del programa Zephyr de Airbus Defence and Space, en el que se desarrollan vehículos aéreos eléctricos no tripulados de gran altitud, este centro participa tanto en el prototipaje del sistema óptico OPAZ (Optical Advanced Earth Observation System for Zephyr), como en la realización de pruebas reales con el sensor embarcado en globos estratosféricos.