BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - With the launch of its second telecommunications satellite made in Argentina on Wednesday, President Cristina Fernandez celebrated the country’s technology milestone and wants the South American nation to manufacture eight more over the next 20 years.
Launched from French Guyana atop an Ariane 5 rocket, the satellite will provide telecommunications services across much of the western hemisphere. Argentina last year launched its first satellite which provided country-wide coverage.
The geostationary satellite reduces Argentina’s reliance on foreign satellites. Its construction is a source of national pride and a relatively new industry for the country, which hopes to export its technology.
Fernandez’s government, which has faced a drought of good news lately in view of double-digit inflation and a stagnant economy, has been celebrating the launch under the Twitter hashtag #satellitesovereignty.
Argentines go to polls on Oct. 25 to elect a new president. While Fernandez cannot run for a third consecutive term, she has endorsed the candidacy of Buenos Aires Province Governor Daniel Scioli. Many Argentines expect she may run again in the future.
“The future has arrived, today we saw it take off,” Fernandez said in a televised speech. “And in parliament we are going to institutionalize it.”
Fernandez said her government was sending a new draft law to Congress to promote the satellite industry in Argentina, saying it would require investment worth $1.201 billion.
She foresees building eight more satellites over the next 20 years, some of which will be sold abroad, adding that Buenos Aires had invested $1.05 billion in the satellite industry since 2003.
Fernandez said the satellite launch was proof that the country had also left its 2001/02 economic crash far behind it.
The president gave much of the credit to her predecessor and late husband Nestor Kirchner, who created Argentina’s satellite company Arsat back in 2006 and oversaw strong economic growth during his 2003-2007 mandate.
Reporting by Sarah Marsh and Maximiliano Rizzi; Editing by Lisa Shumaker