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Mexico to create its first space center on Yucatan Peninsula

RIA Novosti


MEXICO CITY, April 22 (RIA Novosti) - Mexico will create its own space center on the Yucatan Peninsula, deputy economy minister Francisco Pimentel said.

"In the next few days, [U.S.] astronaut Jose Hernandez and engineer Fernando de la Pena will travel there to carry out an inspection, in order to study concrete details of the future construction," he said.

Pimentel said the space center will be built near the city of Chetumal, on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. The space center, to be located some 15-20 kilometers (9-12 miles) away from residential locations, will built on about 30 hectares of land.

In 2008, the Mexican parliament approved the creation of a Mexican space agency (Agencia Espacial Mexicana - AEXA). The initiative was put forward in 2007 by NASA's Hernandez, whose father emigrated to the U.S. from Mexico. The structure of Mexico's space agency will be similar to that of NASA. The initial cost of the project is estimated at $80 million.

Hernandez has said the Mexican space agency was ready to cooperate with all countries in peaceful space exploration. According to the astronaut, Mexico is technically unable to carry out rocket launches by itself at the moment, but will probably be able to in ten years or so. For now, he said, the country should obtain the necessary technology.

Russia and Mexico signed an agreement on cooperation in space research and exploration for peaceful purposes in 1996. In March 2009, a delegation of experts from Russian space agency Roscosmos visited the Latin American state to discuss the creation of the Mexican space agency with local lawmakers.

After the talks, Roscosmos deputy head Sergei Savelyev said Russia was ready to help Mexico develop its national space program on a commercial basis.

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