SpaceX takes the first satellite developed by a Brazilian start-up firm into space



The rocket Falcon 9 of the private firm SpaceX launched this Thursday from Cape Canaveral (USA) put into orbit a small satellite developed by the Brazilian start-up Pion Labs, which became the first startup in the country to achieve this feat. “This is a milestone for Brazil. It is the first startup in the country to place a satellite in space,” said the director of Portfolio Management of the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), Paulo Barros, quoted in a statement from the organism. “It is a pocket satellite, which we call PocketSat (picosatellite), fully developed in Brazil. It is very important for the country that a startup is already in a position to launch one of these,” added the director of the state company.

Pion-Br1, a picosatellite that will study long-distance transmission capabilities during its two-year lifespan, was one of 105 small satellites for private and government customers that the Transporter-3 mission of SpaceX launched into sun-synchronous orbit this Thursday. Among the satellites that constituted the useful load of the Falcon 9 rocket were also six from the Spanish firm Fossa Systems, of the 80 that it plans to have operational in 2023 to facilitate IoT (internet of things) connections, and the miniature satellite “General San Martín “, which the Argentine government will use to provide internet access to agricultural producers in rural areas throughout the country.

The Pion-Br1, whose volume is only 125 cubic centimeters, was developed and assembled in the laboratory of the small Brazilian technology company in Sao Caetano do Sul, a municipality in the interior of the state of Sao Paulo. “On behalf of the Brazilian Space Agency, I would like to congratulate the young entrepreneurs of the startup Pion Labs for the feat they have achieved,” said the coordinator of Satellites and Applications of the AEB, Rodrigo Leonardi, in the same statement.

The Pion, named after the Brazilian physicist César Lattes, one of those responsible for the discovery of the subatomic particle meson pi (pion), was born in 2017 with the intention of developing rockets to present at the Spaceport American Cup (SAC), an event that happens every year in the United States. In 2020, the small company was awarded a tender from the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology that provided the resources to finance the development and launch of its satellite. the appliance was developed in just seven months by the founders of the company, Calvin Trubiene, Bruno Pinto Costa, Gabriel Yamato and Joao Pedro Vilas Boas, and aims to study long-distance communications capacity for the future development of a new era for this segment in Brazil.

The technology will make it possible to collect and analyze data on the ability to communicate over long distances and to explore this type of transmission. “In the long term, we want to refine these discoveries and transform them into solutions for monitoring sustainability and safety, as many players in agribusiness and the preservation of the Amazon demand,” Trubiene explained. “In a second moment we also thought of expanding the performance to other Latin American countries,” he added.

SpaceX Transporter missions consist of Shared trips that allow private and public institutions to assume the cost estimated cost of more than 50 million dollars to put the cargo into orbit. This Thursday’s launch is the second of the year after the liftoff last week from the Kennedy Space Center, also in Cape Canaveral, of another batch of almost 50 Starlink satellites for SpaceX’s satellite internet network.

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