Ronnie Nader

Research in science and technology is not a sport, it is not a football game where you win and lose, in this there is no word 'failure', that is for those who play to win or lose and here we are not playing, here we are constantly working and researching and the only failure is to stop doing it.

Ronnie NADER

Meet Ronnie Nader: First Ecuadorian Astronaut

Within the framework of inter-institutional cooperation with the Ecuadorian Civil Space Agency - EXA, we have maintained several approaches in order to promote future collaborative actions.

Among the approaches mentioned, we interviewed Ronnie Nader to learn about the management developed by the agency in depth, and the expectations generated by CEDIA’s inter-institutional approach.

Ronnie Nader is the Director of Space Operations at EXA, President of the Latin American and Caribbean Regional Group of the International Astronautical Federation – IAF, and Permanent Member of the International Academy of Astronautical Sciences - IAA.

What are the activities performed within the Ecuadorian Space Agency EXA?

My job now at EXA is to direct the development of our own space technology and test it in orbit. In the IAF it is to promote Latin American spatial development with emphasis on youth, and in the IAA my job is to do research in space engineering sciences on advanced human space flight technologies.

Do you think you have achieved your goals set within EXA?

Taking into account that EXA was founded more than 10 years ago and according to the Space Program proposed in 2007, the first Ecuadorian satellites were planned to be launched in 2016, but they were launched in 2013, there was no mention of achieving the Microgravity World Record, but we did it in 2008. We had planned to start exporting Ecuadorian space technology in 2018, but we started doing so in 2016. I think I have exceeded the goals set by EXA in the 2007 Space Program.

Briefly, tell us one of your best experiences in your work.

The whole time has been pleasant because I work in what I was born for, but I remember special moments, like when we achieved the World Record in the EXA / FAE-06 mission in 2008, when we started HERMES-A, our earth station. The night of April 25, when we launched our first satellite PEGASO, on that same night I could hear its transmission from space and then in the morning we recovered its signal thanks to our second satellite, KRYSAOR.

What has been your most complicated moment working at EXA?

The night we lost the PEGASO signal due to the collision with space junk over the Indian Ocean.

What can you take away from the experience of being Ecuador's first astronaut?

I would not know how to answer to that, the truth is that for me there has never been much of a difference. I was born an astronaut, it's just that it took me 40 years to prove it to the Russian Government and the world.

Being in direct contact with technology, how do you see the future technological development of Ecuador?

Frankly, I do not see technological development in Ecuador, besides what EXA is doing. For example, a month ago, an institution in the United States asked us to design, develop, test, and deliver a class 4 LASER for a satellite that takes off in August in a NASA rocket, with the highest standards. Three days ago we started and two hours before writing these words it was received in the United States. This would sound like a miracle to anyone, but we were able to do it that way because basically we adapted one of the many LASERs that we already had from another research project which started two years ago.

So in reality, it was not 30 days, it was more than 18 months of experience and investment that paid off, but when we were developing that project we had no idea that we were going to apply what we had learned in something very different. That's right, research is sowing, it's hard work that pays off with the harvest, but you always have to be watering and fertilizing. Research in science and technology is not a sport, it is not a football game where you win and lose, in this there is no word 'failure', that is for those who play to win or lose and here we are not playing, here we are constantly working and researching and the only failure is to stop doing it.

So, from that perspective and in my line of work, I do not see any of that in Ecuador, it does not mean that it does not exist, it's just that I, personally, do not see it.

What are the expectations you have about the agreements between EXA and CEDIA?

That the stated goals are met, in fact in the past 10 years of EXA’s existence it has signed many agreements with several institutions, but it rarely begins working on them, and not because of our lack of willingness, because for us the written or spoken word is a true commitment and I sincerely hope that this time this will be different.

I hope that we can really work and make what we have committed to, a reality. We don’t have a lack of will or time, our country needs a lot of work to create sustainable development and that is not going to happen by doing more of the same, covering the same ground, we need to do new things, and scientific research and technological development need to go where we have not gone before. Although others have already arrived there, what matters is that we arrive there too, because nobody can live alone and maybe we could do better, faster, and stronger and that is how we, as humanity, can continue to progress.