A satellite with a diameter of 30 centimeters (11.8 inches) will be launched in late 2013 or early 2014 so students and members of the public can perform scientific and technology experiments for free for four months, Mexican Congressman Andres Eloy Martinez told Efe.
The Esperanza I, which will be given a name in an Indian language, will cost about $8,000, including construction, launching and operations, Martinez, a member of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, said.
"This is exciting for young people, children and society in general, (for people) who want to perform experiments in areas like radio communications, studies of the atmosphere with magnetic and chemical sensors, perhaps biological (sensors), and even to obtain images from space," Martinez said.
Esperanza I, which is being built by Interorbital Systems of Mojave, California, is expected to be launched at the latest in January 2014 from the Pacific nation of Tonga, but efforts are being made to have the launch take place in southeast Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, the congressman said.
"It's an economic satellite, very small, and its useful cargo capacity is limited, but it would undoubtedly be sufficient to include experiments of great creativity from students or others with an interesting project," Martinez said.
The Mexican Space Agency, which was created in 2010 by Congress, will provide advisory services on the technical aspects of the project during the approximately four months that the satellite will be in orbit, the congressman said.
The guidelines for selecting the experiments to be carried into orbit will be revealed soon, Martinez said.
Mexico spends an amount equivalent to less than 1 percent of the gross domestic product on science and technology, the congressman, who is an astronomer, said.
"We have the raw material to begin this great transformation that is necessary - the minds of millions of children, young people who are just waiting to get opportunities and the encouragement to get involved in science and technology," Martinez said.
The Mexican Space Agency is still in its developmental phase, but the goal is to have it oversee and develop the country's space policy in coming years.
Mexico wants to have its own Cape Canaveral, with a launch facility possibly located in the Yucatan Peninsula. EFE