Background

Argentina’s first activities in the space field go back to 1961, when the National Commission for Space Research (Comisión Nacional de Investigaciones Espaciales, CNIE) was first established within the Argentine Air Forces area.  A civil engineer, Mr. Teofilo Tabanera conducted the beginnings of the new entity as its first president.  CONAE’s Space Center in the province of Córdoba has been named in his honor.

CNIE, working with local and international partners, carried out the first southern hemisphere scientific atmospheric physics using rockets and stratospheric balloons.

Together with the Argentine Institute of Aeronautics and Space Research, CNIE designed and constructed a family of one- and two-stage sounding rockets, i.e. the Orion, the Rigel and the Castor, which were launched from Chamical, in the Province of  La Rioja.  They carried scientific payload, particularly the one provided by the former National Cosmic Radiation Center - today the Institute of Astronomy and Space Physics - to determine X-ray profiles in the Earth atmosphere.

The first Latin American course on space survey matters was organized by CNIE at the Bariloche Atomic Center, located  in the Province of Rio Negro.  NASA scientists and experts from Harvard, Iowa and Rice Universities lectured at this course, which was amply attended by Argentine professionals as well as by Brazilian, Chilean and Colombian colleagues.

In 1991, the Argentine Government decreed the creation of the National Commission for Space Activities (CONAE) as a civil entity reporting directly to the President. Since 1996, this specialized agency accomplishes its mission governed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.