The Argentine satellite and aerospace industry can be competitive in the international market. The country can position itself to be a leader in the sector.
The Argentine satellite and aerospace industry is one of the booming strategic sectors that positions the country within the international market with innovative developments.
Through public-private coordination and the support of the Knowledge Economy Secretariat of Argentina’s Ministry of Economy, small and medium-sized national companies have generated unique and disruptive products such as a specialized parachute for aircraft pilots, a space rocket with biofuels and a satellite imaging system for the mining and oil industry 4.0.
Bet on local technical capacity in the Argentine satellite and aerospace industry
In 2003, Nicolás Lopez went to live in the United States due to the economic crisis at home. He began working in parachute factories in that country as a stitcher until, a few years later, he returned to his native Córdoba to set up his own repair shop that he named Aerorigging.
He began his project to create an emergency parachute for aircraft pilots. This item still needs to be manufactured in Argentina and is currently in the process of certification by the Argentine National Civil Aviation Administration (ANAC) with flight tests.
“This is my passion, and I intend to finish the verification process to demonstrate that this can be produced in Argentina. It is an industry that does not exist today, but Argentina has the technical capacity to do it. It is one part of a legal and possible aeronautical business, and we will bet that the conditions are here to advance,” said Nicolás of Aerorigging.
“The contribution of Argentina’s Ministry of Economy was significant because it accelerates time. Otherwise, carrying out this ambitious project would be practically impossible,” he added.
The Ministry of Knowledge Economy has financed 21 projects for over US $314 million through the Enhance Satellite and Aerospace Industry Program. Meanwhile, the 2023 call has a total budget of US $950 million and will grant Non-Refundable Contributions (ANR) for US $36 million per individual project and US $81 million for collaborative works.
Newspace: a growing market that demands new technologies
“Let’s make an analogy that a rocket is a ferry that takes satellites to a certain orbit in space, but some need to go to another planet, the Moon, or even move from orbit. For that, we develop propulsion systems, which are larger engines that are comprehensive and complex that allow them to move from the place where they are released by the rocket to the final destination,” said Dan Eterberg, CEO of LIA Aerospace.
Initially, the company, located in the City of Buenos Aires, was born in 2019 with the idea of making space launch rockets such as the Zonda 1.0, the first biofuel rocket manufactured by a private company in the Argentine satellite and aerospace industry.
However, they soon realized this was a difficult market and decided to use the core technology already developed to create a system and a product.
“It is a completely global market. The large companies that make these systems are international corporations with much experience. Still, a company with a smaller satellite cannot spend the same amount or more on a propulsion system. That is Newspace, a company doing disruptive things that manage to lower costs with greater risk. That’s why they can hire a start-up like ours at an affordable price,” said Eterberg.
As the CEO of LIA Aerospace explained, the company is already holding conversations with clients from different parts of the world, such as the United States, England, and continental Europe. “What we see is a market that is growing and that will demand our technology in the coming years; in a short time, we will access an international market with a lot of added and strategic value, such as the space market,” he concluded.
The Argentine satellite and aerospace industry takes on the world
From Santa Fe de la Vera Cruz, Ingeap began developing a very little-known technique that works with satellite images to determine movements over large areas and remotely with great precision. The company uses external satellites from the European Space Agency to obtain the information it captures and, thus, provides services to Argentine national and international oil and mining companies.
“Being part of the Satellite and Aerospace Enhancement effort was a great opportunity that allowed us to incorporate equipment and broaden our perspectives. For small companies like ours, it is a critical point of leverage because it gives us the necessary support to innovate in techniques and to develop innovative products; without “that support, it would be much more difficult to be able to dedicate this time and these resources to a research and development idea,” commented the Executive Director of Ingeap, Francisco Tibaldo.
These types of technological developments, such as those of Aerorigging, LIA Aerospace, and Ingeap, set a precedent in the Argentine satellite and aerospace industry, which, in turn, enables the nation to be competitive in the international market and position itself as a regional and global leader in the sector.