On Saturday, February 22, the Earth observation satellite SAOCOM 1B, belonging to the Argentine National Space Activities Commission (CONAE, in Spanish), left to Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, U.S.A., wherefrom it will be launched by the end of March.
The SAOCOM 1B was moved by land on Friday 21 in the early morning from INVAP’s headquarters, in the city of San Carlos de Bariloche, to the airport. The convoy included four trucks, one of them to transport the satellite and the others to carry the technical equipment required for handling and testing it again in the United States.
The satellite, loaded into a container especially furnished for its transportation, embarked on the plane nose through a ramp, while the rest of the equipment were loaded on its stern through rails set on the runway for the operation. The flight to the airport of Cape Canaveral was made in the Antonov AN-124, an Ukranian plane chosen due to its cargo capacity, which is normally used to transport locomotives, fuselages and other outsized freight.
In the context of the SAOCOM 1B loading and farewell, a formal ceremony took place at the International Airport Teniente Luis Candelaria, which was presided over by the Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers, Lic. Santiago Cafiero. The Minister of Interior, Dr. Wado de Pedro; the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Roberto Salvarezza; together with the Italian Ambassador in Argentina, Giuseppe Manzo; the Governor of the Province of Río Negro, Lic. Arabela Carreras; the Mayor of San Carlos de Bariloche, Engineer Gustavo Gennuso; the General Manager of INVAP, Dr. Vicente Campenni; the Director of CONAE, Engineer Raúl Kulichevsky; and other national, provincial and local authorities were present at the event.
Then, the Governor invited the Chief of the Cabinet together with the ministers and other authorities to visit INVAP’s headquarters, where they were greeted by the President of the Board of Directors, Lic. Hugo Albani; General Manager, Dr. Vicente Campenni; Deputy General Managers, Engineer Marcelo Basigalup and Lic. Carlos Montenegro; Radar, Defense and Security Projects Manager, Engineer Darío Giussi; and Space Projects Manager, Engineer Gabriel Absi; among others.
While touring INVAP’s installations, the most important achievements of the firm during more than 40 years and its development fields such as nuclear, space, defense and security, medical systems, and technological services were reviewed. Special emphasis was placed on INVAP’s record in the radar development area. The delegation could visit the Conventional Integration Room, where radars are tested and assembled.
Finally, the SAOCOM 1B left to the United States on Saturday, February 22, at 4 a.m., with a stopover in Santiago de Chile airport to be refueled.
The final stage in the launching of the SAOCOM 1B means a milestone for the country, since in addition to CONAE and INVAP, more than 80 technology-based and conventional companies have participated in it. Together with numerous institutions conforming the country’s science and technology system, they contributed their knowledge, experience and efforts to ensure the success of this mission.