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Nicaragua's Space Programs

Nicaragua's space program is, not suprisingly, nonexistent. Not only does it not have an agency, but also not much of an infrastructure in which one would arise. The University of Nicaragua offers a degree in engineering but nothing specific to space related educational architecture, such as astrophysics, astronomy, astronautics or aeronautics. It focuses mostly on agriculture in this rural, mountainous country. The government has no ministry devoted to science of this type. It has no history of being part of any organization dealing with space, nor has launch capability. It lacks the industrial base, the educational base and the political foundation for a process like this to occur within it. The government has no plans for attempting to further any ambition in space development or research, but may once things stabilize, if they ever do.

The Russian government is building a "spy base" in Nicaragua in a startling Cold War-like buildup of both its military and intelligence presence in the West, The Washington Free Beacon reported in June 2016. Beacon writer Bill Gertz, citing unnamed defense officials, reported a deal between Moscow and Managua also involved the costly sale of 50 T-72 Russian Tanks. Nicaragua is still headed by the White House's onetime Cold War nemesis leftist Daniel Ortega. Retired Navy Cdr. Daniel Dolan, writing in the blog USNI News, stated that the cost of the tanks, an estimated $80 million, is $9 million more than the entire Nicaraguan defense budget for 2015, Gertz wrote.

Gertz provided no details could be learned of where the spy site will be located, but notes it "could be disguised as a Russian GLONASS satellite navigation tracking station" that's nearing completion — "the Russian version of the Global Positioning System network of satellites used for precision navigation and guidance."

The Nicaraguan Institute for Telecommunications (Telcor) signed an agreement with Russia in August 2015 on the construction of Russian Glonass satellite navigation network ground stations in Nicaragua. The stations are expected to become operational by July 2016. Initially, the work of the Glonass stations will be handled by Russian specialists and will then be gradually passed on to Nicaraguan workers as they finish their training.

In April 2015, Nicaragua's National Assembly ratified a cooperation agreement with Russia on the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes. The agreement aimed to enable Russia to deploy stations for its Glonass satellite navigation system in Nicaragua. The Glonass project, which was launched in 1993, is considered to be Russia's answer to the American GPS (Global Positioning System). The Glonass network consisted of 28 satellites in 2015, allowing real-time positioning and speed data for surface, sea and airborne objects around the globe.

Russia launched a new Glonass satellite navigation tracking station in Nicaragua on 07 April 2017. The station, the first Glonass facility in Central America, was named Chaika (Seagull) – the call sign of the first woman in space – Valentina Tereshkova. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Laureano Ortega, President Daniel Ortega’s point man on cooperation with Russia, stressed the station’s importance for Nicaragua and Central America as a whole. “Nicaragua is a good partner of Russia. The data obtained by the station will benefit Nicaraguan science and industry,” he said.




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