By Pedro Pablo Cortes
Mexico City, Sep 23 (EFE).- Airbus on Thursday hailed the aerospace potential of Mexico and the newly created Latin American and Caribbean Space Agency (ALCE), an initiative that was spearheaded by the Aztec nation and encompasses 18 countries of the region.
“We see potential, absolutely, and I think it can develop Latin America’s space industry,” Victor de la Vela, the head of Airbus Defence and Space for Latin America, told Efe at the Mexico Aerospace Fair (Famex).
A total of 18 countries have confirmed their participation in ALCE: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia and Venezuela.
That international organization will be based in Mexico and coordinate cooperation in space exploration, research and technology to boost the regional capacity of Earth observation systems for application in agriculture, disaster response and management, security, meteorology, natural resource exploration and intelligence.
De la Vela said the agency will serve to unify criteria and needs and that Toulouse, France-based Airbus views it as a positive development for the region.
“It means there’ll be a point of contact in the region, which I think is very necessary. It’s true that Latin American countries have had difficulties in launching their space programs. Sometimes they’ll have to share satellites, images, etc.,” the Spanish native said.
Airbus is one of the main participants in Famex, an event that kicked off on Wednesday at the new Felipe Angeles International Airport serving Mexico City and is Latin America’s premier aerospace and defense exhibition.
“Mexico is a key, strategic country for Airbus. We’ve been in Mexico for more than 40 years … So for us it’s an obligation to be at Famex, to be present and keep supporting Mexico,” De la Vela said.
Mexico’s aerospace sector has grown by an average of 14 percent annually over the last decade, with exports totaling $9.7 billion in 2019, according to the Mexican Aerospace Industry Federation (Femia).
The Economy Secretariat projects that by 2025 that industry will be the 10th biggest globally with more than 400 companies nationwide, 110,000 employees and $12 billion in exports, Femia says.
“We’re aware of Mexico’s interest in developing its local space industry, and we’re prepared to make efforts so the local industry plays a role in space development,” De la Vela said.
“Mexico has a very clear ambition to develop its (aerospace) industry and launch its own satellites in the future. In fact, it’s already started launching satellites,” he added.
The Airbus executive said his company has a diverse portfolio that ranges from traditional military airplanes to nanosatellites and intelligence systems that can appeal to the Latin American market.
“We have a very broad portfolio, and that allows us to develop the industry from a more modest foundation up to very sophisticated technology. We can cover everything. What do we need for that? We need stable space programs. That’s important,” De la Vega said. EFE