Given the arms race that recently seems to be speeding up in parts of the region, very close oversight will be necessary by local governments and by the international community to insure that the space technology being developed in Latin America does not become another route for regional instability.In 2006 Marcos Pontes, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Brazilian Air Force, became the first Brazilian national to go into space as a member of the crew of the Expedition-13. This event is both a landmark in Brazilian history as well as an interesting example of a developing science that has political, economic and security-related repercussions for space technology in Latin America.
Today, the area has made considerable progress in trying to break away from Washington’s traditional dominance. A home-grown hemispheric space program, with the aid of major outside powers like France, Russia and China, represents the latest round of this growing trend.
Latin American space technology is still in its infancy and will be for years (if not decades) to come. It will continue to rely on major foreign powers for technology, expertise and launch-capabilities; Pontes himself continues to work at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Nevertheless, the development of home-grown space technology in Latin America can be defined as both a short-term and a long-term project for many nations.
Space technology provides a nation with a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can be of great aid to Latin American countries, in order to improve telecommunication capabilities to isolated areas as well as monitoring environmental conditions. At the same time, space technology can easily be used for military means, spying on another country’s armed forces as well as hacking into closed security networks. Given the arms race that recently seems to be speeding up in parts of the region, very close oversight will be necessary by local governments and by the international community to insure that the space technology being developed in Latin America does not become another route for regional instability.
|Russia, China and the European Union (specifically France) all have developed space programs and have shown themselves to be more than willing to assist Latin American countries in their quest for free-standing space-programs.|