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Chile and Space: Part 1

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The Golden Age of National Space History

Chile has not been far away in participation in the Space field, in fact, there are milestones that at the time contributed to the momentum and development of what was once the golden age of space history.

To summarize and for the knowledge of readers, space history is summarized in the following feats:

Decades from the 50s to the 80s

  1. Year 1959: NASA signs an agreement with the University of Chile to establish an operational base for monitoring satellites of the United States space program, giving rise to the creation of the Center for Space Studies (CEE).
  2. Year 1968: Installation of the first Telecommunications Station in Longoviloinaugurating the first teleport in Chile and Latin America. Thanks to this technology, the arrival of man to the Moon in 1969 was transmitted.
  3. Year 1980: Creation of the Space Affairs Committee, an agency dependent on the Air Force to propose a text for the National Space Policy and prepare a bill to create a Space Agency.
  4. Year 1985: Chile and the United States sign the Mataveri agreement, whose purpose was to allow the use of the Rapa Nui Airport as an emergency landing and rescue site in the event of incidents suffered by the space shuttles.

90s and early 2000s

  1. Year 1993: Chile carries out the II Space Conference of the Americas (April 26 to 30), which reaffirms the interest of the participants in promoting cooperation in the area of space activities.
  2. Year 1995: Launch of the first scientific-experimental micro satellite Fasat Alfa, from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia. However, Fasat Alfa could not be separated from the Ukrainian mother satellite Sich-1. Additionally, the first generation of project engineers and operators is trained.
  3. Year 1996: Chile joins the Search and Rescue System for damaged aircraft through the COSPAS-SARSAT Satellite System, an entity administered by the Air Force through the Chile Mission Control Center (CHMCC)
  4. Year 1997: Chile is part of the organization of the III Space Conference of the Americas in Punta del Este, Uruguay.
  5. Year 1998: Launch of the scientific-experimental micro satellite Fasat Bravofrom the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, on the Zenit II vector rocket. In addition, the first technicians and specialists in operation and maintenance of the Mission Control Station are trained.
  6. Year 1999: Students from Liceo N°1 Javiera Carrera successfully complete the experiment “Chinitas al Espacio” sending them to the International Space Station aboard the shuttle Columbia.
  7. Year 2000: The candidacy of the first Chilean astronaut Klaus von Storch to travel to the International Space Station, whose mission was scheduled for 2003. However, it did not materialize.
  8. Year 2001: Creation of the Presidential Advisory Commission called the Chilean Space Agency, whose purpose was to identify, formulate and execute policies, plans, programs and activities related to national and international space matters. However, it never came into force, since the decree that created it was not published in the Official Gazette.

Personal reflection

One of the key aspects I want to highlight is international collaboration, evidenced by agreements with NASA, participation in space conferences and satellite launches in cooperation with Russia and other countries.

These alliances demonstrate Chile's recognition on the world stage and its ability to contribute to space activities at a regional and international level.

Furthermore, the creation of institutions such as the Center for Space Studies and the Committee on Space Affairs, as well as efforts to establish a Space Agency and the Presidential Advisory Commission, indicate a political will to promote national space development.

However, despite these opportunities and efforts, some initiatives were not fully realized, such as the candidacy of the first Chilean astronaut or the implementation of the Space Agency. This suggests possible bureaucratic, financial or other obstacles that could have slowed progress in this field.

In terms of missed opportunities, it is evident that Chile had the potential to further develop its space sector. Space technology not only offers scientific and technological benefits, but also practical applications in areas such as Earth observation, communications, navigation and disaster management.

Additionally, the development of space capabilities could have contributed significantly to the country's economic growth and technological advancement.

Looking ahead at this first stage, it was important for Chile to continue exploring and taking advantage of opportunities in the space field. This could involve consolidating clear policies and strategies, as well as promoting collaboration both nationally and internationally.

In this regard, the country could have benefited from investing in education and training in space sciences and related technologies to cultivate a highly skilled and competitive workforce in this emerging field.

What about the other milestones?

I will soon publish the second stage with the continuation of the space story to this day.