Argentina at the top of the world satellite industry
A recent report by the international consulting firm Euroconsult ranks Argentina among the five most important regions for the global satellite industry.
The report, titled “Satellites to be built & launched by 2025 world market survey”, includes a detailed analysis of the scientific, technological and commercial growth of worldwide satellite demand, and considers Argentina one of the benchmarks of the sector. According to Euroconsult, the five key regions for space economy are North America (the United States), Europe (Russia, Israel, France and England), Asia (Japan, China and India), and Argentina, the only country in South America.
In Argentina, space services are developed in two well-differentiated areas: systems oriented to communications, on the one hand, and systems oriented to space scientific activity, on the other.
Key actors: CONAE, INVAP and ARSAT
The history of the industry in Argentina started in 1961, when the National Commission of Space Investigation, dependent on the Air Forces, was created. In 1991, it was replaced by the National Commission of Space Activity (CONAE), then answering directly to the president, and today the Ministry of Science, Technology & Productive Innovation. CONAE’s technical expertise has been recognized internationally through the signing of cooperation agreements with the most important space agencies in the world.
As for ARSAT, the public enterprise for satellite solutions, it was created to design, develop and put into orbit geostationary communication satellites; although, over time, it has diversified its business areas (according to the demand and the programs proposed by the Argentine government).
The third key actor in Argentina’s space industry is INVAP, a public enterprise belonging entirely to the Province of Río Negro, that started its activities in 1972. At present, INVAP generates whole satellite projects and, with the exception of launching, its tasks include from the concept of the mission to the putting into orbit of the satellite and its operation, hired by CONAE and ARSAT.
The country took the leap to the global market by building, launching and the operation of the geostationary communication satellites Arsat-1 and Arsat-2 in INVAP; and the progress, in the last two years, of the commercialization of its products, to redefine the business plan that will start up the development of Arsat-3.
This evolution in the satellite market, which started with telecommunications in Argentina and neighbouring countries and then extended services to the rest of the continent —mainly to the United States— meant the opening of a very competitive market for products with high added value for the country’s industry.
In 2015, the Argentine Congress passed Law 27.208, declaring the development of the satellite industry to be of public interest and the development of geostationary communication satellites a national priority.
Hence, this report by Euroconsult is essential for the industry and is oriented to communication satellites, the economically most important sector, due to their commercial aspects.
In the words of Vicente Campeni, INVAP’s deputy general manager, “Argentina’s great merit to achieve the level of countries with this kind of expertise and to be among the main players of the satellite market was to attain a development that allowed the country to make progress in commercialization and to open the doors to the import market.”
Additionally, the manager of the Department of Space Projects, Gabriel Absi, pointed out that “only a few have achieved this integrating capacity, that includes from the satellite design to its manufacturing and the tests, intervention in the whole mission hiring the launching and the operation from Earth.”
Thus, in a scenario of proven international competition, with the due support of a public space policy, we can foresee the emergence of great opportunities for the private sector to develop new business based on satellite services related to the use of images and telecommunications, among others.
The scene is set: It’s just a matter of taking off.
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