The satellite SAC-D/Aquarius was a successful cooperation project between the Argentine National Space Activities Commission (CONAE, in Spanish) dependent on the Ministry of Federal Planning, Public Investment and Services and the U.S. space agency NASA. Other countries such as Brazil, Canada, France and Italy also participated. It was launched from the Vandenberg US Air Force Base on June 10, 2011.
According to CONAE’s press release, the numerous and different results achieved during the four-year mission have made remarkable progress as regards the understanding of the ocean dynamics and its interaction with the climate and the environment of the planet.
INVAP S.E. (Argentine state-owned applied research company), being the main contractor of the observatory SAC-D/Aquarius, points out –apart from the importance of the scientific and operational objectives accomplished by the mission– the great significance of this project for the technological development of our country.
The satellite, that took 5 years to be designed and manufactured including its sending into orbit, required more than one million working hours undertaken by Argentine professionals and technicians of INVAP and CONAE, as well as many others of the national technological system and of the national small and medium technological enterprises (PYMES, in Spanish) from the private sector.
Just to mention a few examples of the challenging technological problems solved for this mission, CONEA underlines:
• The communication antennas were developed and provided by a national PyME.
• The solar panels and 5 out of the 8 instruments of the SAC-D were wholly designed and manufactured in the country.
• The great ability that INVAP has today to integrate satellites was developed for this mission.
• Design and production technologies made out of carbon fiber and composite materials were also developed in the context of this project.
• An instrument so delicate and sensitive such as the Aquarius required that the quality standards of design and production reached their maximum extent.
All this allowed to face new technological challenges as regards space issues, such as the geostationary telecommunications satellites. Thus, it has produced a virtuous circle that broadens the technological basis at national level being applicable not only to the space industry, but also to other industrial areas.
The SAC/D was a key step for the technological progress of our country since technology is an accumulative process in which past developments contribute to future challenges and enable to face them.