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Argentina postpones satellite launch due to pandemic

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Argentina postpones satellite launch due to pandemic

Argentina decided to suspend the launch of its SAOCOM 1B earth observations satellite, slated for the end of this month, because of the COVID-19 pandemics, science, technology and innovation ministry and the country’s space agency Conae informed.

The satellite was expected to lift-off from the Canaveral base in Florida aboard a SpaceX’s Falcon9 rocket on March 30. But the current crisis led the government and SpaceX to agree on a postponement.

“This decision was made considering the restrictions prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic that could affect the availability of internal and external resources, which are necessary not only for a safe insertion in orbit, but also for the future operation on the satellite,” the ministry said in a statement.

Conae said SAOCOM 1B will be secured for storage at a SpaceX facility at Cape Canaveral until launch preparations can resume.

The SAOCOM 1B mission is said to be the first US launch to be suspended by the pandemic.

Argentina’s SAOCOM observation fleet mission has collaboration from the Italian space agency (ASI) and private and public entities. 

The program's main contractor is Invap, an Argentine satellite-builder which also operates in the nuclear energy and defense segments.

The launch of the first craft, SAOCOM 1A, was also postponed - although only for a couple of days and at the request of SpaceX. The satellite flew into space in October 2018.  

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