21 April 2010: Mexican Space Agency now officially approved by Congress

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Yeah! Today is a big day for a country that is a member of a group of countries that I believe should play a larger role in exploring space - countries that have a large enough economy and educated enough workforce that they should be playing a niche role in space exploration but for some reason or another (or no reason at all) just haven't done so. There are also countries like Canada of course that have a space agency, but one that is much, much smaller than it could be. Canada could easily up the budget for the CSA to a $1 billion and barely notice.

Anyway, back to Mexico. The article is in Spanish.
The Mexican Congress today approved the creation of the Mexican Space Agency (Agencia Espacial Mexicana, AEXA) with 280 votes in favour, two opposed and four abstentions, meaning it now only has to wait for final approval and publication by the government.


Congressman Reyes Tamez defended the utility of this body in Parliament, affirming that it would serve to consolidate the aerospace industry in the country, improve the formation of human capital and reduce the scientific gap between it and countries like the US, where $900 per person is spent on innovation development research, but only $14 per person in Mexico.
This per capita figure compared to the GDP per capita is where you can find out if a country is slacking in R&D or not. For example:

US $900 per person vs. Mexico $14 per person. GDP per capita: US $46443, Mexico $8040, thus 5.77 times Mexico. Even after accounting for the difference in income then Mexico spends 11 times less per capita than the US. Ergo, slacking.

Same with Canada. CSA = $373.5 million budget. NASA budget = $17.6 billion, thus 47.1 times the size. GDP per capita in Canada is slightly lower at $39217, and the population is 9.2 times less than the US, so Canada is slacking off at a rate of 4.3; i.e. Canada would need to increase the CSA's budget to $1.6 billion just to equal this. Plus, this is just to equal NASA, which is underfunded too.

No surprise then that Canada's role in the new plans for NASA is to do next to nothing.

The bad news about the Mexican Space Agency though is that the initial budget is unbelievably tiny. Ready for the amount? A mere $800,000. A single Falcon 1 launch is more than ten times that. So Mexico still gets the big slacker label along with Canada, but at least it has set up the initial framework for hopefully something more impressive in the future.

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