Argentina to Begin Testing of Small Satellite Launch Vehicle

Tronador II rocket. (Credit: Sergio Panei Pitrau)
Tronador II rocket. (Credit: Sergio Panei Pitrau)

Here’s an interesting item (via Google Translate) from the Argentine newspaper El País:

The Government of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner….announced this week that before the end of the month it will begin the first tests of the Tronador III satellite launcher in the village of Pipinas (156 kilometers south of Buenos Aires ). It will then test the first of up to six prototypes before installing in 2015 the final structure for satellite launches in the city of Bahía Blanca, located about 690 kilometers south of the capital of Argentina.

The plan foresees Argentina state satellite investment of $335 million between 2014 and 2016, including $9.2 million for the experimental vehicle. The rocket measures 14.5 meters, weighs nearly 3 tons and moves at 800 kilometers per hour. All satellite technology is developed by 350 Argentine scientists and technicians, although led by an Italian who heads the National Commission on Space Activities , Conrado Varotto. The project also involves the University of La Plata and technology public company in the southern province of Black River, Invap. The future launch platform at Bahía Blanca can put satellites weighing 250 kilos into a medium orbit.

“The Tronador III means sovereignty and development, because we will make full satellite mission alone,” said the Minister of Federal Planning, Public Investment and Services, Julio de Vido. “Sovereignty, that alone will allow us to complete satellite mission, i.e., building and putting satellites into orbit. And because we do technological development design and construction that is 100% Argentine, which also allow us to put in orbit satellites of others.”

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High-Level Argentine Delegation to Visit Brazil’s Alcantara Launch Center

By José Monserrat Filho
Head of International Cooperation Cooperation
Brazilian Space Agency (AEB)

On Thursday, March 15, a high-level delegation of Argentina will visit the Alcantara Launch Center (CLA) in Maranhao, considered one of the most privileged of the world space launch insurance, economic and competitive.

The tour meets at the invitation, in 2011, then President of the Brazilian Space Agency, Marco Antonio Raupp, now Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, during a meeting at the Foreign Ministry on cooperation between the two countries for the peaceful uses of outer space.


Charlie Bolden’s Latin American Tour

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

In case you are wondering what Charlie Bolden is up to these days (and I know you are), the NASA chief is on a four-nation outreach visit to Latin America this week that is taking him to Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Costa Rica.  The trip is apparently a follow-up to an earlier visit to the region by President Barack Obama, according to press reports.

On Monday, Bolden met with Chilean Foreign Minister Alfredo Moreno in Santiago to discuss bilateral scientific cooperation and consulted with members of the Chilean Space Agency (ACE). Cooperative efforts discussed included programs to measure the movement of ice and to prevent geological hazards. The testing of Mars surface vehicles in the Atacama Desert was also on the agenda.

Moreno also thanked Bolden for NASA’s assistance in helping to rescue 33 trapped miners last year.

Bolden will be in Brazil on Thursday, where he will to sign a joint cooperative agreement on the Global Precipitation Measurements program that focuses on collecting international rainfall data.

Argentina Plans First Domestic Satellite Launch

Tronador II rocket. (Credit: Sergio Panei Pitrau)

Argentina is looking to join the exclusive club of nations with the capacity to launch its own satellites by 2013.

Engineers are now working on the new Tronador II (Thunderer II) , a two-stage rocket that will be capable of launch a 200 kg payload into low-Earth orbit. According to El Argentino, engineering faculty at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata will begin tests on a Tronador prototype next year with the intention of having a vehicle ready to launch in 2013. The work is being overseen by the National Commission on Space Activities (CONAE). Argentina’s first domestic satellite mission will lift off from a new launch pad at a military base in Puerto Belgrano.

The 34-meter tall rocket is based on the Tronador I, a single-stage booster that was first launched in 2007. The earlier rocket served as a technological testbed and only reached 20 km in altitude.

The Tronador II project is a key part of Argentina’s National Space Plan, which also the domestic development of satellite systems, the establishment of the Institute of Space Studies, the creation of information systems using space data, and the expansion of ground infrastructure.

The most intriguing goal is the creation of a regional space agency. In late August, Argentina’s Defense Minister, Arturo Puricelli, proposed the development of a South American space agency to his Brazilian counterpart, Celso Amorim. Brazil has its own ambitions in space, which include launching Ukraine’s Cyclone-4 rocket from its Alcantara Launch Center and developing a family of boosters with Russia.



Alcântara: The Spaceport of the Future?

Charles de Gaulle -- not one of Brazil's biggest fans.

“Brazil is the country of the future…and always will be.”

So wryly observed Charles de Gaulle decades ago, marveling at how South America’s largest country, blessed with enormous resources and an industrious population, was forever failing to live up to enormous potential.

Brazil seems to be on the verge of ending that cycle. Economic and political reforms of the past decade have put the nation firmly on the path to becoming a regional and global power. During the next five years, Brazil will shine on the global stage as it hosts two of the world’s greatest sporting events, the Summer Olympics and the soccer World Cup.

And yet amid the optimism, the nation’s future is clouded by a lack of trained workers, a critical shortage of investments in key areas, and an often disorganized government. Nowhere are these shortcomings more apparent than in the nation’s space program and, in particular, its efforts to turn its sleepy Alcântara Launch Center into a world-class spaceport.


Argentina and Brazil May Team to Create South American Space Agency

Argentina has proposed to Brazil that the two nations join in creating a South American space agency:

The defense minister, Celso Amorim, on Tuesday received the proposal for the creation of a South American space agency of his Argentine counterpart, Arturo Puricelli. Puricelli, who attended the seminar “Defense Industry Transformation as an inducer of National Defence,” asked the authorities of both countries and companies to create a strategy that will enable the region to develop the space sector.

“Our communications are dependent on services that are satellite data from countries in other regions and so we must join efforts to reach space with a South American space agency,” explained the minister of Argentina.

Puricelli said for this purpose, the “existing spaces and the ability of Brazil”, besides the “potential” of Argentina in this field, which, he says, “can be very well used.” “What keeps us from having a satellite launcher South American? The challenge for ministers is to create a South American space schedule and have own satellite in 2025”, he said.

It’s an intriguing idea that might boost Brazil’s efforts to turn its Alcantara Launch Center into a full-fledged spaceport.

Brazil to Increase Space Co-operation with China

The Xinhua news agency reports that Carlos Ganem, the new head of the Brazilian Space Agency (BSA), wants to deepen his nation’s space co-operation with China.

The two nations are already working together on a remote sensing program. Last Setember, a Chinese Long March rocket launched the jointly-developed CBERS 2B satellite into orbit.

Xinhua also reports that Brazil will launch a satellite with Argentina and work with the Ukraine to reconstruct a rocket base.