At the Paris Air Show this week, Kazakhstan signed a deal with the Russian Information Satellite System Reshetnev (ISS-Reshetev) Company to build KazSat3, a communications satellite for the company. A delegation from the country is also working to enhance ties with French companies for space technology, reported Central Asia Newswire.
Thales (News - Alert) Alenia Space is building the communications payload for KazSat3 while ISS-Reshetnev is providing the Express 1000 platform along with handling integration and testing in Russia. KazSat3 will operate a geosynchronous slat at 58.5 degrees and have 28 Ku-band transponders to deliver service to Kazakhstan and the region. The satellite is expected to have a 15 year service life and provide TV, radio, and broadband internet services.
Astrium is currently working with Kazahkstan on two satellite projects. In October 2009, the French space hardware and services company won a contract to build and launch two Earth observation satellites and a ground station. The following year, Astrium got a contract to outfit and help build a satellite assembly, integration, and test center.
One of the two Astrium-built satellites will be a high-resolution optical satellite with resolution of 1 meter while the other one will have a wider coverage swath with resolution of 7 meters. Both satellites are expected to be launched in 2014, providing mapping, natural resource and agricultural monitoring, and disaster relief support.
Kazahkstan, home of the Baikonur Spaceport, wants to build up its own space industry and expertise independent of Russia. The Russians currently lease the facility until 2050, but work is underway in Russia to build a full-blown spaceport capable of supporting both unmanned and manned launches on its territory.
The government of France and French companies have been more than willing to work with the Kazahkstan to build up its space industry, including infrastructure and (more importantly) training and knowledge transfer. Since 2009, officials from the two countries have made regular visits to the other's offices to discuss cooperative efforts and announce the latest agreements.
Fueling the investment in space is Kazakhstan's oil and gas; BP estimates the country hold about 3 percent of the world's oil reserves. Oil wealth can be found as the source for a number of recent space projects. Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Venezuela are all building or planning to build satellites while the United Arab Emirates saw its first dedicated communications satellite, Yahsat Y1, go into orbit.
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Edited by Jennifer Russell