Space technology is one of the most relevant areas in the company. All satellites launched by the US Space Agency NASA for Argentina since 1996, many of their payloads, and the ground satellite observation station at Falda del Carmen, Córdoba, have been designed and built by INVAP as a contractor of the Argentine Space Activities Agency (CONAE).
Althoug INVAP had been working in the space area since the mid 80s, it was not until the creation of the National Space Agency CONAE, in 1991, and after the signature of a collaboration agreement between CONAE and the NASA, that this interest was reflected in actual projects. In December, 1991, INVAP and CONAE signed a contract for the provision of the SAC-B satellite and the HXRS payload, a spectrometer designed for scientific research. From that moment on, CONAE has been almost an exclusive client for INVAP in space technologies, such as CNEA had been in nuclear matters when the company started. The fundamental guidelines are similar, and so are some of the protagonists: it may be mentioned that the Technical Manager of CONAE as from 1994 is Dr. Conrado F. Varotto, founder of INVAP twenty years before.
The signature of these agreements marked the start of INVAP "space are" in a critical moment for the company (1991) and it was a clear sign of confidence from the autorities of the recently created Space Agency. INVAP Space Division developed its activities at Villa Golf, near Llao Llao in Bariloche, where many years before the first succesful events in the nuclear area had taken place.
Besides, INVAP started, by the end of the 90s, to design the first radars fully developed in Argentina, and is now able to design, construct and maintain radars for multiple purposes. Radars are, esentially, electronic devices that measure a distance by recording the time a radio pulse takes to bounce against an object and return. Nowadays, radars are sophisticated sensors used not only for military applications, but for commercial air traffic control, meteorology, navigation and image recording to be used in agriculture, natural resources, scientific research and emergency management.
INVAP has also designed a Synthetic Aperture Radar for the Earth Observation satellite SAOCOM. In a different area, the company is participating, as from 2003, and as a contractor for the Argentine Air Force, in a national program to provide radars for a better control of the Argentine Air Space. To the present, INVAP has completed the installation of several secondary RSMA radars in different Argentinian cities. These radars interrogate a transponder in the aircraft, requesting its ID. Another kind of radars, that may be used both for civil and military applications, is also being developed. These are the 3D long-range primary radars, capable of detecting unidentified, illegal and eventually hostile aircrafts.
In the last years, INVAP has carried out a job to update radars for the Argentine Army, provinding digital technology for control, processing, viewing and remote control applications. Besides, INVAP has developed and installed in most Navy Schools a navigation simulator called MELIPAL, to train ship pilots to navigate by radar. All these projects are part of a strategic plan of the National Government to develop cutting-edge technology, first to satisfy domestic needs and then to go out to the world and be part of the competitive market of high technology products..