The story of the creator of the first Latin American picosatellite

It all started with a blackboard. Alejandro Cordero remembers the day in 2019 when he returned to being a teacher, this time at the Technical School No. 5 in Mar del Plata, with the intention of generating in his students an enthusiasm that seemed lost in the corridors of the school. “The first thing I did when I got to the classroom was throw away the chalk board, I really hate it, and I put a fiberboard on. I also painted the walls, cut the tables, put a coffee maker and modified the whole environment. After that, I did ask my students if they wanted to build a satellite”.

Not only almost three years passed from that germ, but also an internationally validated student project, the creation of the company Innova Space -Valued at 40 million dollars- and the launch, this Thursday from Cape Canaveral, of the first picosatellite in Latin America, called San Martín Al Espacio. “The main objective is that the launch of a constellation of miniature satellites allow connectivity in the most remote areas, not only in the country, but globally”Says Cordero enthusiastically.

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The technical teacher received the call from Page 12 few hours before the picosatellite takes off MDQubeSAT-1 from SpaceX, the area designed by Elon Musk at NASA.

“I have not enough time to continue doing things,” said Cordero, who in addition to taking care of the last details of the launch had to face an additional problem: the third wave of infections that the country is experiencing. Of the fourteen Innova Space employees, half are isolated by the coronavirus. “I believe that even COVID-19 is not going to stop us. We are very expectant and all we think about is at noon on Thursday ”. The launch was successful.

San Martín Al Espacio weighs less than 500 grams, and measures 10x5x5 centimeters, which will allow an aerospace launch at a very low cost.

What can this satellite that is less than the length of a pen achieve? Lamb, how could it be otherwise, he explained it fluently. “We seek to provide Internet of Things (IOT) information where there is none. Today 70 percent of our country does not have coverage. Worldwide, the figure rises to 80 percent, “he reflected.

This OIT technology allows connecting different devices to be controlled from a concentrated command. For example, both in Agriculture and Mining, the sensors could be linked to measure the level of the crops, the volume of irrigation or the level of extraction. Cordero’s project is to send a constellation of 120 satellites – called Libertadores de América – to achieve the goal of global connectivity.

Joint private – state

All the picosatellites made by Innova Space were manufactured entirely in the Neutron workshops, a company that supported the creation of the startup designed by Cordero. But in addition to the support of the private company, the MDQubeSAT-1 It had the support of the Ministry of Productive Development, which through ARN financing (Non-Refundable Contribution), exceeded an investment of 50 million pesos.

“Without the private – state articulation we would not have been able to get to the place where we are,” said the “Peronist innovator” – as defined on Twitter – although he insists that the state has to take “one more step.” “The State must be part of the business, it does not have to be a bad word for the State to take shares in the company, for example in Innova Space. Because in the end, if the company is successful, that money returns to the State and is reinvested in other companies or SMEs. I strongly believe in this growth of the State, to become linked, but I think that I should take one more step and take actions in these companies, “he added.

Cordero, with Santiago Cafiero, months before the takeoff of the picosatellite

The value of the national

The first part of the picosatellite project arose entirely from the classrooms of the Mar del Plata Technical School, located several kilometers from the central Plaza Colón.

In less than three months, Cordero and his students put together the prototype and a formal document (“which has nothing to envy to the scientific papers of a doctorate”, says the Teacher) for presentation at the Satellite Congress in Scotland.

“The project was not only approved, but six students and two teachers were invited to travel,” he explained, adding that many of the boys not only had never traveled by plane. but they had not left the seaside town either.

“That this took place in a public school fills me with pride. Most of the students came from the periphery, from the poorest and most humble neighborhoods of Mar del Plata. But there were also children of wealthy families, who were not there in winter because they traveled to Miami. But there was never a difference between them. That amalgamation of public school is unmatched”, He commented.

Shortly before returning to teaching, Cordero led a metallurgical SME. But in 2018, in full opening of imports, They must have lowered the blinds of the company. Today he claims that the picosatellite is a product made one hundred percent national. “That is why the name of San Martín. He is the man who closes the gap in our country ”, he told this newspaper, proud of the name used to baptize the miniature ship that will go from pole to pole and will take 92 minutes to go around the world.

One more “patriotic” detail. The Picosatellite it will also have the logo of the Falkland Islands. “Another sample of sovereignty,” he completed, about the San Martín that will orbit 600 kilometers from Earth.

Meritocracy

At the end of the interview, Cordero talks about his origins. A native of José C. Paz, deep in the suburbs, he recalled the days when he used to eat from the neighborhood’s popular pots and highlighted the efforts of his parents, who insisted on their academic training, “despite the fact that neither of them had even finished elementary school.”

“None of my friends were able to continue after high school. I was the only one in the whole neighborhood who could have had a higher education ”, he recalled, while commenting, in passing, what his first job was: street sweeper for the multinational Pepsico.

When consulted about the conception of meritocracy, the creator of the first picosatellite Latin American orbiting the Earth, did not hesitate to highlight the value of personal effort, although he stressed and pondered the need for education to be accessible to all social strata.

“I once read (Daniel) Filmus saying that the springboard for the jump from the lower class to the middle class is the studio. This stuck with me very much. I hope all the most marginalized people have that possibility ”, he concludes.

How to watch the launch of the picosatellite

The launch of the first Argentine microsatellite MDQubeSAT1 Mission 1 San Martín It can be followed together with its creators, who will be in Tecnópolis accompanied by officials of the national government, the January 13 from 12 on the Innova Space YouTube channel.

The date and time may vary if the necessary meteorological conditions are not met on the day of the original appointment.

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