16 July 2014

According to Matías Bianchi, President of ARSAT (Argentine Company for Satellite Solutions), the first Argentine communication satellite providing with television, telephone and Internet services will be launched between September and October.

“We are waiting for the specific date to be confirmed by the owners of the launcher (ArianeSpace),” Bianchi stated during an interview with Télam. He underlined the importance of this national milestone since “there are no more than eight countries in the world capable of manufacturing geostationary satellites as big as Arsat-1.”

He mentioned that the satellite will enable to distribute “Open Digital Television (TDA, in Spanish) signals for cable operators and data content services in Argentina and the whole South American continent.”

Besides, it will offer Internet services and “will enter the mobile phone industry to cover isolated areas where there is no connection.”

In his turn, Vicente Campenni, Assistant General Manager of INVAP (applied research company), explained that “ these satellites cover not only the most populated regions of the country, where the need of electricity is greater due to their business activity, but also less profitable areas which nevertheless should be included in the social development of Argentina.”

Bianchi emphasized the government’s decision “to develop a manufacturing plan to protect the two orbital positions allocated to Argentina by the International Telecommunication Union (UIT, in Spanish) providing satellite telecommunication services” through ARSAT.

Before the former president Néstor Kirchner’s administration, the German private company Nahuelsat was in charge of managing the two orbits; but as this firm “encountered some difficulties in its economic sustainability” and there was a risk of those two orbital positions being lost, the national State decided to buy its assets. This is how ARSAT was created.

“The country can keep those orbital positions either by renting a satellite to provide with services, or by renting services to an operator, or by manufacturing its own satellite, which is what the Argentine government decided to do,” Bianchi highlighted.

In relation to the part both companies played in the process, Bianchi said that “the project of building geostationary satellites started thanks to the know-how of Nahuelsat together with INVAP experience in low orbital satellite manufacturing.” He underlined that a “sovereignty issue” was at stake, since “Great Britain was interested in one of the two orbital positions that Argentina was eventually able to retain.”

In late June, INVAP confirmed that the final preparations for the ARSAT-1 had been completed, and Télam was present during the last tests carried out at the company’s headquarters in San Carlos de Bariloche, before this first satellite was moved to French Guiana, where it will be launched.

“The satellite has undergone functional and environmental tests for eight months to guarantee that its design, manufacture and assemblage are suitable to the harsh conditions it will be exposed to during its launching stage and its 15-year-lifetime in orbit,” Campenni informed.

He also remarked that almost 400 persons cooperated with the project in different stages and that “each of them feels the entire satellite as their own.”

The Assistant General Manager of INVAP proudly added that “the workers’ devotion” to the project is due to “the crucial importance it has for the country,” and reminded that since the foundation of INVAP by Dr. Conrado Varotto “he always instilled them confidence in their work and repudiated mental colonialism.” “His motto was ‘We will always be able’,” he added.

As for the time taken by the process of manufacture, he said that “it lasted several years” and that “being a service provider satellite, it had to fulfill stricter requirements as regards its design, manufacture, assemblage and testing . It must last three times more than an earth observation satellite.”