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Sat Sep 26, 2015, 04:16 PM

ARSAT-2: Argentina consolidates as Latin American satellite leader

When Ariane 5 flight VA226 launches on September 30, the orbital slot for the 81 West geostationary position will finally get its long-term dweller that it has been promised for over 17 years. Riding along with the Sky Muster satellite, ARSAT-2 is the second geostationary satellite designed and manufactured in Argentina (and all of Latin America).

ARSAT-2 is the younger twin of ARSAT-1. It is a near copy of the first Argentinean geosynchronous orbit satellite, with the only difference being the payload and associated structures. The story begins with the separation of the Argentine military forces from the national space program in the early 1990s.

By 1998, DirecTV wanted to enter the local market, since it was the country with the highest per capital cable television penetration in the world. In exchange for that, Argentina gained the rights to a prime orbital real estate: the 81 West orbital slot.

Not only did it include both Ku and C band right, but instead of just allowing signals to Argentina and neighbors, it included all of the Americas from Alaska to Patagonia. Since Argentina is the biggest exporter of Spanish media content in the continent, it was a particularly attractive position for the country. Also given that the slot goes right through the center of the continental United States and it was acquired as a trade for allowing DirecTV to enter the television market in Argentina it could potentially enable to tap the satellite TV market in the United States.

With the imminent failure of Argentina's only orbital asset at the time (Nahuelsat), however, and without any actual willingness to invest in a replacement, after some negotiations the Nahuelsat stockholders accepted to transfer all assets and obligations to the newly created and government owned ARSAT.

‎Instead of ordering a couple of satellites from the international market and thanks to the successful experience of the SAC-C (2000) and SAC-D (2011) the national government decided that ARSAT should acquire the satellites from local companies. The only real choice was INVAP S.E., a technology company that has craved a niche in the research nuclear reactor market and had also been building the national LEO satellites.

The contract for the ARSAT-1 was thus signed by 2008. While INVAP was the prime contractor, the design rights would belong to ARSAT. While they did rely on foreign suppliers for some commodity elements, like propulsion engines, solar panels and on board computer hardware, over 50% of parts, and all design, qualification and testing was done locally. Also, every single piece of software was written from scratch by Argentine industry, as was the ground control segment.

With this development, the country could control the specification, design, manufacturing, testing and operations of GEO satellites.

Sophisticated modules like the ACE (the Attitude Control Electronics) and TCE (Thruster Control Electronics), the whole structures, and all software and algorithms were done by INVAP. This was no small feat since it is the critical part of design that usually more heavily covered by dual-use technology transfer laws -like the American ITAR- and geosynchronous orbital maneuvering is just a small step from interplanetary. Even the ground control station software and satellite control and telemetry system were built by Argentine contractors. This enables control of the whole technology stack of the satellite from production to control without foreign help.

ARSAT-2 will cover all the Americas offering data services as well as television content distribution. This is a strategic asset since Argentina is the leader on broadcast content production for Latin America and ARSAT-2 will enable it to distribute it directly through all the continent. This development also allowed Argentina to retain the West 81 orbital slot - which was almost lost to the UK in 2007 after a decade of British lobbying to obtain the coveted slot.

Being the clear leader in satellite design and manufacturing in Latin America was a national effort, and Argentina clearly believes in pushing this technology forward.

At: http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2015/09/arsat-2-argentina-consolidates-latin-american-satellite-leader/

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Reply ARSAT-2: Argentina consolidates as Latin American satellite leader (Original post)
forest444 Sep 2015 OP
Judi Lynn Sep 2015 #1

Response to forest444 (Original post)

Sat Sep 26, 2015, 08:50 PM

1. Outstanding article! Had no idea this has been happening.

Looks as if the sky is not the limit now for Argentina's capabilities.

Great information, great news, looking forward to hearing much more.

Thanks, forest444.

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