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Russia’s Energia building EgyptSat-A ready for 2019 launch

The Egyptsat-2 high-resolution remote sensing satellite in a clean room prior to launch. Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Russian news agency TASS reports that the Rocket and Space Corporation (RSC) Energia is currently building a new high-resolution remote sensing satellite for Egypt called EgyptSat-A.

EgyptSat-A is being built as a replacement for EgyptSat-2 that failed in orbit in April 2015 less than a year after its launch.

Vladimir Solntsev, the Chief Executive Officer of RSC Energia, is quoted by TASS as saying, “We have already started producing the spacecraft. Its launch is scheduled in 2019.”

EgyptSat-A is being built using the funds recouped from the insurance claim against the EgyptSat-2 loss, said to be U.S.$100 million. In August 2016 SpaceWatch Middle East reported that RSC Energia was in talks with Egypt’s National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences (NARSS) about developing EgyptSat-A as a replacement for EgyptSat-2.

At the time of those discussions Igor Frolov, General Designer of Automoatic Space Complexes and Systems at RSC Energia, said, “We have formed a council of chief designers, discussed the technical and production readiness of all cooperating institutions for execution of the work on creation of the spacecraft Egyptsat-A. The representatives of all the cooperating organizations have confirmed that they are ready to develop, manufacture and supply the components for the new spacecraft.”

According to Russian press reports, Egyptsat-A will have improved performance capabilities compared to the failed Egyptsat-2. In particular, the replacement satellite will feature an improved electro-optical system and onboard control systems, high-speed radio links, and solar panels with increased efficiency.

These improved capabilities and systems are thought to enhance Egyptsat-A’s capacity for storing satellite imagery, as well as its swath. They will also improve the accuracy of imagery geo-referencing in mountainous terrain – perhaps an indication that Egyptian authorities require a remote sensing capability that can monitor terrorist activity in the Sinai Peninsula.

RSC Energia will produce the vast majority of components for Egyptsat-A, compared to Egyptsat-2 where 60 percent of the components were manufactured in Egypt.

Earlier in 2016, Egypt signed a deal with French companies Airbus Defense and Space and Thales Alenia Space for a military communications satellite. It is believed that the French companies also offered Egypt a high-resolution imagery satellite but that Cairo demurred because of the cost. It was later reported in the defense and aerospace press that South Korean and Russian companies were in discussions with Egypt to build a high-resolution imaging satellite.

If these reports were correct, it would appear that RSC Energia has won that bid, though the Egyptsat series of remote sensing satellites has been a deeply troubled one. The decision to stick with a Russian manufacturer for the Egyptian remote sensing satellite might be more about Russian-Egyptian geopolitics than the need for a reliable satellite imaging system.

Original published at: http://spacewatchme.com/2017/01/russias-energia-building-egyptsat-ready-2019-launch/

 

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