Chile Launches its First Space Satellite into Orbit

By Dialogo
December 20, 2011

Chilean Air Force technicians have succeeded in communicating with the first Chilean space satellite, launched from French Guiana on December 16, on a Russian Soyuz rocket.

“At 11:18 a.m., contact was made with the satellite for the first time from the Bosque orbital station (in Santiago),” Defense Minister Andrés Allamand stated.

The Fasat-Charlie satellite, which represents the third Chilean attempt to implement this technology, following two failed attempts in 1995 and 1998, separated from the Russian rocket at 2:29 a.m. and was contacted two hours later via an antenna located near the North Pole, remotely operated from Chile.

“That first contact (from the North Pole) made it possible to confirm that the solar panel had deployed correctly and in a timely manner and that the battery-charging cycle had been initiated correctly,” Allamand added.

Early in the morning of December 17, four additional contacts were made to confirm that the satellite’s parameters were functioning correctly and that its orbit was the appropriate one.

Following the conclusion of the launch stage, a testing phase began that will last six weeks, in order to calibrate and refine the orbital trajectory, adjust the camera that makes it possible to obtain images, and verify the systems and components.

The satellite will enable Chile to have the most advanced existing technology available to increase monitoring of its borders and territorial waters, as well to carry out agricultural and urban planning, disaster response, and environmental protection tasks.

The satellite model was an Earth Observation Satellite System developed by the French space agency (CNES) and the European consortium EADS Astrium. The total cost of the project was $72 million dollars.