I got the call as I was driving high up in the mountains on the back roads of Utah. It was a moonless night, and I thought how the bright fireball would be spectacular against the night sky.
“Sure!” I told my son, Bryce, who works on guidance systems for the ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) project at Hill Air Force Base. The call triggered memories of sending our own homemade rockets into the sky – and sometimes along the ground. Some launches were successes and others were spectacular failures.
The space program; the excitement of sending men into space, the unknown, and the explosion of television shows like ‘Star Trek’ and movies that depicted space invaders. Such is still fodder for film as in the newly released “Alien Covenant” or the anticipated “El Huaquero” about a time traveling grave robber, directed by Jonatan Relayze.
Peru has joined the space race by launching PeruSAT 1 in 2016 with NAOMI (New Astrosat Observation Modular Instrument) imaging system to provide 0.7 m resolution panchromatic images and 2 m resolution images in four wavelength bands.
“Mayor General FAP Carlos Caballero Leon, head of the Space Agency in Peru, held an exposition on the 21st of April 2017 en the district of Mejia, Arequipa, about the use of the satellite images for the benefit of the people of our country.”
The pictures are already being used to help stem flooding issues in the Rimac River Valley. The images that are being taken help state authorities to address the needs of people who may not know they are in danger. The images show the growth of the community, which now encroaches upon alluvial flows.
“The Rimac River Valley is the location of Chosica, with a population of 218,976, located 850 meters above sea level. Its large cluster of homes challenges nature and is built in an area of dangerous water flows. It was identified by the institute of National Civil Defense as a vulnerable area in 2005. However, the population of the Chosica canyon is already a reality. Due to heavy rains and mudslides an emergency was this year. It is necessary to take into account that the inhabitants were not aware of the danger when they built their homes in these areas that are vulnerable to any disaster.
“The Peruvian Space Agency is working on a plan with state agencies, to deliver access and passwords so that the representatives of these Institutions can gain free access to the images. With this tool, the authorities can act within their fields on prevention and reconstruction for the benefit of the country.”
Peru has sent other satellites into space, and is probably holds the record for the world’s smallest satellite. Launched by students from the Catholic University of Peru (PUCP), and known as a ‘cubesat’, the orbiting satellite was deployed from a parent satellite.(Reference)
“The PUCP-Sat 1 is a 1,240 grams, cubic-shaped nanosatellite of ten centimeters per side and its structure is made of aluminum. It has solar cells and a lithium polymer battery, and has an expected life of 15 years. Its mission is to collect information on the thermal behavior inside the CubeSat through its 19 sensors, in this way you can refine the design of future satellites, and also take photographs of the Earth.
Among its main objectives are the taking of photographs, functional tests of a stabilization system based on micro wheels, research for the thermal design of future satellites, interstellar communications and the launch of a femtosatellite from within.”(Reference)
Although there were many international implications for the ICBM missile launch, and showing force between conflicted countries is one of the reasons for periodic launches, I still have hopes for improved communications between countries, and improved living conditions for all of us through the challenges of the space race.
The future is in the hands of the youth. Last year, the First Peruvian Space Week was held from August 1st to 5th, and included a space generation workshop and the First Latin American congress of Astrobiology. To learn more about this year’s program, visit:(Reference)
If interested, a link to form to be filled out to enter the International Space competition, held in Beijing China can be accessed here: