Latin American Space Research - Challenges and Opportunities

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The interest of Latin American countries in space research has been successfully developing for many decades. It has its roots in the first development programmes for the Brazilian and Argentinian defence industry within the import substitution strategy, and then the export-oriented strategy during the period of the military rule. The endogenous development of space technology was treated in those countries as a priority and served as a way to diffuse technology to other industries, and as a model for the other countries in the region (Peru and Venezuela), which wished to develop outer space programme by developing their own technologies within the chosen range or by partaking in broader cooperation programmes on the Latin American continent [1]. The Latin American space agencies, which already existed in many countries in the 1960s and the 1970s, were carrying out relatively costly research, treating development in this area not only as the achievement of the economic development objectives, but also as an attempt to oppose the dominance of Washington [2]. Despite of the vast funding on endogenous research in the field of space engineering being provided, until the end of the last century only the projects conducted together with the Soviet Union (Cuba) or The United States were accomplished successfully. Currently and in the nearest future, the Latin American countries are still forced to rely on external assistance with satellite launching, expertise, more advanced technologies, etc. It should be noticed that countries conducting advanced and costly space programmes: the United States, Russia, China and the European Union (especially France and – but to a substantially lesser degree – Italy) show a growing interest in cooperation with Latin America and appreciation towards their specialists, high quality research and space technologies.

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