Until a few years ago, the space was reserved for large corporations related to the governmental and military sphere. Today, the panorama is very different and is seen as an ecosystem where many business ideas are materializing, within the so-called space business.

Hundreds of institutions conduct research and use technologies aimed at improving the lives of people on Earth. On the other hand, large companies and startups look at space with a commercial objective, with the idea of doing business on Earth through the generation of relevant data that they can process and commercialize, supported by the savings provided by nanosatellites and CubeSats, systems considered small, cheap and fast.


Incursion of the region

In the Isthmus, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica stand out for being part of this new space eco-system. The first steps were taken on Tico soil, with the Irazú project, which definitely marked a milestone for the development of new initiatives, after the launch of Batsú-CS1, in 2018. In addition, since 2016 the country has a cluster of aerospace industries (Costa Rica Aerospace Cluster or CRAC) and a bill is currently being discussed in the Legislative Assembly that aims to create the Costa Rican Space Agency (AEC), which will promote research, innovation and development of this matter.

«We are seeing the results of a decade of efforts to boost aerospace exploration from industry, government and academia. When we announced the development of the first Central American satellite in 2010, we knew there was all the potential to make it a reality. However, it was also a great challenge of capacity building in various sectors,» recalls Carlos Enrique Alvarado, president of the Central American Association of Aeronautics and Space (ACAE).

In 2020, Guatemala made history by sending the CubeSat satellite named Quetzal-1, developed at the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (UVG).

«After six years of work on the project and the satellite having been operating in space for ten months, I see many benefits. He showed that you can do different things and develop technology in Guatemala (70% of satellite modules were developed at the university). It even opened the possibility that the students and engineers who participated can generate ventures in this field,» says Víctor Hugo Ayerdi, co-director of Quetzal-1.

It also highlights the Morazán project, an initiative that plans to launch a satellite in 2022 and that has generated collaborative synergies between institutions of the three participating countries: Honduras, Guatemala and Costa Rica.

«It is important to note that both the Quetzal-1 project and the Morazán project were winners of the calls of the United Nations kiboCUBE program, which shows the talent and quality of Central American professionals,» adds Alvarado.

A promising field for the region

According to the president of ACAE, the Isthmus has a series of comparative advantages that make it attractive to participate in the space industry, from the development of capacities in local companies to participate in the global value chain to the attraction of foreign direct investment that generates jobs for professionals and technicians. There is also a wide market and potential to develop space applications that improve the quality of life of citizens.

Space industry

For Vinicio Montoya, candidate cosmonaut from Central America and the Caribbean, everyone knows that the region needs «other ways of doing things», which bring development, innovation and job opportunities, and the cosmic space sector brings with it all three.

«In an analysis of the Tauri Group (Institute of Logistics Management) it was determined that, in the next decade, commercial space programs will generate 14,200 direct jobs per year and an investment of US $ 6,100 million. These opportunities could be taken advantage of by our countries, however, we cannot access them because there is no regional space body,» says Montoya, who is also director of the Guatemala Space Mission and the Space Mission of Central America and the Caribbean.

The location is a plus and, as a critical mass of professionals in the field begins to be available, it is expected that a growing number of industries in the field will seek to establish operations in the region. «Our privileged geographical position favors a better orbital insertion of space cargo, which reduces costs to launch programs (up to 75%) and makes us an ideal area for spaceports,» explains Montoya.

«Our nations are truly capable of integrating effectively into the international niches of research and the aerospace industry, but it should be noted that efforts must be articulated with an adequate regulatory framework, as well as with public-private initiatives that strengthen solid ground for the take-off of projects,» adds Federico Torres Carballo, Vice Minister of Science and Technology of Costa Rica.

Looking beyond and trusting native talent is imperative for a more promising future!

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Source: Revista Summa

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