24.07.2012 [News]

First Belarusian satellite launched

The first Belarusian space vehicle was launched into orbit from the space launch facility Baikonur, Kazakhstan at 09:41 Minsk time on 22 July. Later on, as Vladimir Yushkevich, head of the satellite flight control center informed, it has been put into its intended orbit of 500-520km.

The Belarusian satellite will be able to provide complete imagery of the country’s territory. It weighs about 400kg and boasts panchromatic range resolution of about 2m. Space imagery is primarily intended for cartography and geodesy specialists. More than half of the work required to update cartographic data uses space imagery. Satellite photos are also in demand in the forestry industry, the agriculture, the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Ministry, and the Energy Ministry. In particular, software solutions have been prepared to assess snow reserves and forecast yield of agricultural crops. They are being tested now. For now, Belarusian government agencies use data of American, European, and Japanese satellites. The cost of Belarusian satellite imagery is expected to be lower, making it more affordable for users. Also, Belarus is going to sell imagery to other countries according to their requests. Azerbaijan and Venezuela have already expressed their interest.

The Belarusian satellite is highly maneuverable and can promptly adjust its orbit to enable a different imaging angle. The core equipment has been made by the Belarusian companies “Peleng” and “Belmicrosystemy”. The rest has been made in Russia and the UK.

According to Sergei Kilin, Head Academic Secretary of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, all the subsystems of the satellite were nominal, the solar-cell arrays had been unfolded, and the control center had received telemetry data.

Belarus has the necessary infrastructure to receive, transmit and process satellite data. A command and tracking station has been deployed along with a flight control center to keep track and control the satellite. The flight control center will also take care of planning the operation of on-board and ground-based components, determining parameters of the orbit, compiling commands to manage the satellite.

Source: Olga Meerovskaya, BelIsa