The Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC) was founded in February of 1996 as an initiative of the Fundació Catalana per a la Recerca (FCR), in collaboration with the University of Barcelona (UB), the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) and the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) with the objective of creating a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional institute devoted to space research and their applications. In 2006 the FCR was reformed (currently its name is Fundació Catalana per a la Recerca i la innovació -FCRi) and its role was assumed by the Department of the Catalan Government responsible of scientific affairs.

From the administrative point of view, the IEEC is a private, non—profit foundation. The reason why this administrative form was adopted was to dispose a versatile tool able to deal with the private industries and companies that finally are responsible of the construction of the systems and subsystems that eventually will fly.

The agreements between the IEEC (a private institution) and the scientific institutions participating in the creation and governance of the institute (all of them public) allow the exchange of personnel and funds. To properly separate the private and public affairs, each one of these institutions created a scientific unit according their own bylaws in such a way that scientists can simultaneously act as member of their institutions or as a members of the IEEC.

These units are:

  • Astrofísica i Ciències de l’Espai [ACE (ICCUB)] is a university institute created by the UB devoted to high energy physics, gravitation, cosmology and astrophysics. Only the section of space sciences is affiliated to the IEEC.
  • Centre d’Estudis i Recerca Espacials [CERES (UAB)] is an “institute without walls” created by the UAB grouping physicists and engineers involved in space research.
  • Grup de Recerca en Ciències i Tecnologies de l’Espai (formerly devoted to aeronautics and space – [CRAE-CTE (UPC)]) is an “institute without walls” created by the UPC grouping astronomers, physicists and engineers devoted to space research.
  • Institut de Ciències de l’Espai [ICE (CSIC)]This institute is devoted to Astrophysics (High Energy Astrophysics, Astroparticle Physics and Stellar Physics), Cosmology, Planetary Systems and Earth Sciences. It articulates the support provided by CSIC to IEEC.

The institute is governed by a Board of Directors composed by the directors of each unit. One of them, nominated by the Board of Trustees, acts as the chair of the Director’s Board. The administrative affairs are managed by the Head of Administration. As it corresponds to a confederate structure, the organization of each Research Unit is completely independent.