17. Mexico

Building on its growing aerospace manufacturing industry, Mexico is developing new capabilities in space technologies and satellite applications. Government space activities are carried out in several federal ministries, including the ministries of Defence, Fisheries and Natural Resources; and Transportation and Communications. The Mexican Space Agency (AEM) is based in the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and is responsible for promoting the uses of space science and technology and supporting the growth of the national space sector.

In 2017, the budget for government space activities amounted to some MXN 1 228 million (USD 80 million), when taking into account the biggest government space programmes in Mexico: the MEXSAT infrastructure, the Agro-alimentary and Fisheries Information Service (SIAP), and the programmes of the Mexican Space Agency (Mexican Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit, 2017[1]). This estimate is lower than for previous years, principally due to the high costs involved in purchasing and launching the MEXSAT satellites. The main priorities are telecommunications for rural internet, emergency response and remote fixed and mobile communications (MEXSAT); and earth observation for agriculture and defence purposes (SIAP). Total yearly expenditure may well exceed USD 100 million, when taking into account satellite operations and terminals, the purchase of satellite imagery, GNSS services, etc.

The industry development strategy is spelled out in the 2017 space industry roadmap: Orbit Plan 2.0. The plan ambitiously targets a 1% market share of the global space market for components, products and services by 2026, equivalent to USD 3 billion. By the same year, the country should have developed the necessary infrastructure to extend connectivity coverage in Latin America by 25% (ProMexico, 2017[3]).

The Mexican Space Agency uses capacity-building and partnerships to reach these goals. It supports capacity development in small satellite technology, through regional technology development centres (Gutierrez, 2017[4]) and via international co-operation. The agency also works to increase the availability of R&D funding (e.g. the AEM-CONACYT Sectoral Fund) (National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT), 2018[5]). Important research actors include the centres of the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) and multiple universities.

The space manufacturing sector, consisting mainly of subsidiaries for large international companies producing lower-tier components, is tightly linked to the rapidly growing and increasingly sophisticated Mexican aerospace industry, located mainly in the federal states of Baja California and Jalisco. The aerospace industry provides systems, parts and equipment for several major North American and European aerospace manufacturers (Mexican Federation of Aerospace Industries, 2012[6]). Telecommunications is an important downstream activity. The commercial satellite operator Satmex was acquired by Eutelsat in 2014. In June 2017, the company reported EUR 134.6 million in revenues (Eutelsat, 2017[7]).

Mexico’s share in scientific publications in the OECD “Space literature” database (see guide to the profiles) has increased since 2000 and is comparable to that of Brazil and Belgium. Satellite TV penetration has grown exponentially in Mexico since 2010, while the number of satellite broadband subscriptions decreased between 2007 and 2015 before increasing again in 2016. As part of Mexico’s digital strategy, the project Mexico Conectado works to bring internet access to public spaces throughout the country, using satellite technologies in remote areas. Satellite accounted for some 30% of sites connected by 2016 (OECD, 2017[2]).

Mexico has received space-related official development assistance from Germany, the United States and Spain in the period 2000-16, with projects mainly related to biodiversity.

Figure 17.1. Mexico – Fast facts
Figure 17.1. Mexico – Fast facts
Figure 17.2. Space budget trends
Figure 17.2. Space budget trends

Note: The institutional space budget includes allocations for the Mexsat satellite system and the Mexican Space Agency.

Source: OECD analysis based on institutional sources.

Figure 17.3. Scientific production in space literature, per country
Share of total space publications, 2000, 2008 and 2016
Figure 17.3. Scientific production in space literature, per country

Source: OECD analysis based on Scopus Custom Data, Elsevier, July 2018.

Figure 17.4. Penetration of satellite telecommunication technologies in Mexico
Satellite broadband and satellite TV subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, 2007-16 and 2000-16
Figure 17.4. Penetration of satellite telecommunication technologies in Mexico

Source: OECD analysis based on OECD Broadband database, https://www.oecd.org/sti/broadband/broadband-statistics/, and ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators database.

Figure 17.5. Space-related official development assistance projects carried out in Mexico
Share of space-related commitments directed to Mexico, 2000-16
Figure 17.5. Space-related official development assistance projects carried out in Mexico

Source: Calculations based on OECD DAC database (2018).


[7] Eutelsat (2017), Financial Statement Fiscal Year 2016-17, https://www.eutelsat.com/files/contributed/investors/pdf/FY1617/Eutelsat%20Communications%20Management%20report%202016-17.pdf.

[4] Gutierrez, B. (2017), “Platforms of collaboration for innovation: the regional space development centers in Mexico”, in OECD Space Forum Workshop: Economic and Innovation Indicators, 23 June 2017.

[6] Mexican Federation of Aerospace Industries (2012), The Aerospace Industry in Mexico, http://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://femia.com.mx/themes/femia/ppt/femia_presentacion_tipo_eng.pdf (accessed on 8 May 2018).

[1] Mexican Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit (2017), Proyecto de Presupuesto de Egresos de la Federación 2017: Programas Presupuestarios en Clasificación Económica (Resumen): Ramo 09: Comunicaciones y Transportes, [Budget Estimates for 2017: Communications and Transport], Mexico City, http://www.pef.hacienda.gob.mx/work/models/PEF2017/docs/09/r09_ppcer.pdf.

[5] National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) (2018), Fondos Sectoriales Constituidos AEM-CONACYT [AEM-CONACYT Sectoral Funds], https://www.conacyt.gob.mx/index.php/fondos-sectoriales-constituidos2/item/aem-conacyt (accessed on 8 May 2018).

[2] OECD (2017), “The evolving role of satellite networks in rural and remote broadband access”, OECD Digital Economy Papers, No. 264, Paris, https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/7610090d-en.pdf?expires=1539002952&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=A3381D88DFD9142FE29FB930CC8ECF92 (accessed on 8 October 2018).

[3] ProMexico (2017), Plan de Órbita 2.0: Mapa de Ruta del Sector Espacial Mexicano, http://www.promexico.gob.mx/documentos/biblioteca/plan-orbita.pdf (accessed on 20 July 2017).

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