On Sunday 30 August, and under the coordination of the National Space Activities Commission (CONAE, in Spanish), the Argentine satellite SAOCOM 1B was launched into space. This milestone places Argentina at the forefront of space-based activity in the region, as well as within a select group of countries worldwide.
The launch of this earth observation satellite took place from Cape Canaveral, Florida, United States, and was carried out by the company SpaceX.
The SAOCOM Satellites
The SAOCOM 1B, together with the SAOCOM 1A which was launched in 2018, will have a significant impact on Argentina’s production sector and will be key in preventing and mitigating environmental catastrophes.
The main objective of the SAOCOM Earth Observation satellites is the measurement of soil moisture, as well as use during emergencies, such as fires, floods, hurricanes, landslides, oil spills, plagues in agriculture, desertification, droughts and earthquakes. They will provide precise information that can be applied for agriculture, mining, forestry, hydrology, oceanography, cartography, geology, oil exploration and health.
The two identical satellites were developed and built by the National Space Activities Commission (CONAE, in Spanish), together with the National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA, in Spanish) and with companies such as INVAP (principal contractor for the design, manufacture, integration and trials of the satellites) and VENG.
The radar antennae technology will allow Argentina to access a real time “water map”, almost unique in the whole world (not just of the surface but also up to 2 meters below it), which will allow for prediction of harvest yields, as well as floods and droughts in fields and cities months in advance.
The launch of the SAOCOM 1B also represents a milestone in the área of international cooperation related to the peaceful uses of space. The SAOCOM satellites represent the argentine contribution to the Italian-Argentine Satellite System for Emergency Management (SIASGE, in Spanish), which also includes four satellites of the Italian Constellation COSMO-SkyMed, belonging to the Italian Space Agency (ASI, in Italian).
National space development
The launch of the SAOCOM 1B is the latest in a list of Argentina’s milestones in the field of space activity, which includes launches of the four SAC-series earth observation satellites (SAC A, B, C and D/Aquarius) and the geostationary telecommunications satellites ARSAT 1 and 2, developed by INVAP.
Currently, our country – through INVAP- has the capabilities to develop comprehensive satellite projects, from the design engineering aspect to satellite construction, to provision of turnkey installations related to ground segment, which provide support to the satellites.