Mexican Space Agency: the seed of a new type of infrastructure

11/01/2021

The first step taken by Mexico to take advantage of the benefits of outer space took place at the end of the fifties of the last century when the first SCT-1 (1959) and SCT-2 (1960) rockets were designed, built, and launched -which were a little more than four meters long- under the direction of Engineer Walter Cross Buchanan, Secretary of Communications and Transportation. His mission was to measure the weather and atmospheric pressure.

Mexican Space Agency Nanosatellite AztechSat-1, created by students and professors of the Autonomous Popular University of Puebla.
Mexican Space Agency Nanosatellite AztechSat-1, created by students and professors of the Autonomous Popular University of Puebla.

This encouraged the creation of the National Commission for Outer Space (CNEE), created by decree on August 31, 1962, during the six-year term of President Adolfo López Mateos. It was conceived as a specialized technical body, whose task would be to promote and control research, exploration, and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. Likewise, it would give advice to the federal government, decentralized agencies, and other entities interested in the field of science and technology.

Throughout its 15 years of life (1962-1977), the CNEE made a laudable effort to explore the atmosphere and space. Various rockets were launched at that time: Tototl, Mitl I, Mitl II, Tláloc, some of which were responsible for carrying out atmospheric research, and others for stimulating and encouraging rainfall. On the other hand, the CNEE carried out the Remote Sensing program that consisted of locating aquifers, mineral deposits, geothermal sources, and other natural resources, with the aim of improving irrigation systems, better selecting agricultural land; as well as studying arid zones and air and water pollution, activities that undoubtedly supported the country's economic development.

Mexican Space Agency

It took a little more than three decades for Mexico to decide to enter fully into outer space research. By means of a law promulgated on July 13, 2010, the Mexican Space Agency was created by presidential decree, a norm that entered into force on the 31st of said month. The main mission of this decentralized public agency of the Federal Government, which is divided into sectors within the Ministry of Communications and Transport, is to use space science and technology to respond to the various needs of the population (including high value-added employment), encouraging innovative projects for the development of the space sector. Its essential task is to create a sovereign and sustainable space infrastructure, which allows it to observe the earth, navigate through it and provide broadband satellite communications that improve both the quality of life of Mexicans and the economic growth of the nation.

Lines of action

The provision of a communications system that allows spatial connectivity to all of Mexico, the monitoring of its territory to prevent environmental disasters, economic growth, and the development of transportation, based on the use of GPS, are some lines of action developed by the WEA. It is worth noting the boost it offers for so-called "precision agriculture" through the use of satellite technology in the country's agricultural productivity. Through it, it is possible to detect, among other aspects, the reduction of land due to population growth, the presence of meteorological phenomena -caused by climate change- that can affect them; or the plagues in the crops, and the unevennesses that damage their production.

In the international field, the Mexican Space Agency has signed several collaboration agreements with European and Asian countries, whose objective is to share information, training, and also satellite images. In 2018, Mexico chaired the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, as well as its UNISPACE+50 summit. The World Space Week 2018 Committee recognized Mexico as the third most outstanding country in terms of space science and technology dissemination activities. In this regard, the WEA is also especially focused on building great human capital. 

The most recognized achievement of the Mexican Space Agency to date is its contribution to the launch and operation of the AzTechSat-1 nanosatellite.

To this end, it first disseminates among new generations of children and young people the interest and resources offered by outer space, and then supports them in achieving their goals in this particular area. In addition, it has constituted and developed a wide range of activities that go from divulging seminars, courses, contests, publications such as the extraordinary digital magazine Hacia el espacio (Towards Space); an educational portal with specialized topics; to educational stays both at NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States) and at the Mexican Space Agency itself.

The most recognized achievement of the Mexican Space Agency to date is its contribution to the launch and operation of the AzTechSat-1 nanosatellite designed by students and professors of the Autonomous Popular University of Puebla. After having passed the rigorous tests required by NASA, it was launched into space on December 5, 2019, with the purpose of establishing communication with the GlobalStar satellite constellation, which it successfully carried out in the International Space Station.

X Anniversary and more

The Mexican Space Agency completed a decade of existence on July 31, 2020. Its work "has put Mexico in the concert of scientific and technological development worldwide, with which the SCT works by land, sea, air, and now from space for the benefit of the country. Ten years after its creation, the Agency's mission is to carry out tasks for the benefit of the most unprotected population of our country, in accordance with the policies of our current government of the Fourth Transformation, considering space as a social good," said Mr. Jorge Arganis Díaz Leal, Secretary of Communications and Transportation.

One of the most recent activities of the Mexican Space Agency is the organization of the First National Congress of Space Activities (CONACES) within the framework of the World Space Week - UN, held on October 7, 8, and 9, 2020. Its purpose is to strengthen the exchange of knowledge among national actors involved in the implementation of scientific and technological space projects, to promote projects of social benefit in Mexico.

The Mexican Space Agency has the essential task of creating a sovereign and sustainable space infrastructure.

On October 9 of the referred year, Mexico signed with the Republic of Argentina an agreement for the creation of the Latin American and Caribbean Space Agency as the first step for the conformation of a space project own region. "There are many lags that we have in Latin America and the Caribbean. However, at present the issue of telecommunications is a determining variable in their welfare," said Arganis Díaz Leal.

There is no doubt that the Mexican Space Agency is the seed of a new type of infrastructure for the construction of its own technological capacities in the Fourth Transformation of Mexico, thus promoting the current information and communication technologies.

Source: El Mirador