ASUNCION – The impending launch of Paraguay’s first satellite promises to be the start of a new phase of technological progress in the South American nation, officials said on Tuesday.
Participation in the Guaranisat-1 project has already had a “domino effect,” the head of planning for the Paraguay Space Agency (AEP), Jorge Kurita, said during a press conference in Asuncion, pointing to “the creation of research teams and groups in the space sector, applied to solving terrestrial problems.”
Far from only being a matter of national pride, Guaranisat-1 will be a valuable tool for Paraguayan policy-makers, AEP director of aerospace development Alejandro Roman said.
Observations of the Earth from orbit can be useful for authorities in dealing with natural disasters such as floods and wildfires, he said.
“They are examples of how space science and technology can improve the management of a country and a government,” Roman said. “The AEP is not only engaged in the launch of a satellite, it is a means to be able to advance in technological development.”
To put its own satellite into space, Paraguay joined the BIRDS-4 initiative, organized by Japan’s Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech) with the Japanese and Philippine governments.
The Guaranisat-1 is based on the CubeSat, a miniaturized satellite for space research that is made up of multiple cubic modules of 10cm×10cm×10cm.
Two Paraguayan engineers who traveled to Japan for the project, Adolfo Jara and Anibal Mendoza, took part in Tuesday’s media event by video-link.
Jara said that Guaranisat-1 is set to complete nine distinct data-collection tasks during its useful life, expected to be a minimum of 18 months.
“With those data, we will say that our satellite has completed its mission,” he said.
After the launch, the AEP’s Roman said, Guaranisat-1 will dock at the International Space Station, where it is to remain until it is “placed in orbit using a robotic arm in March or April and begins the test period.”
Paraguay has built two ground stations to receive data from Guaranisat-1: one in the Asuncion suburb of San Lorenzo, the other in the far-western Chaco region.
The AEP chief, retired Col. Liduvino Vielman, called the creation of Guaranisat-1 a “bet on innovation” that addresses Paraguay’s deficit in “research and development.”