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Eurasian Economic Union to Integrate Remote Sensing Satellite Capabilities in 2019

President Aleksandr Lukashenko, of Belarus (left), President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan (centre), and President Vladimir Putin of Russia (right) at the signing ceremony of the Treaty of the Eurasian Economic Union in Astana, Kazakhstan, on May 29, 2015. Photograph courtesy of the Eurasian Economic Commission.

The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) plans to create a joint remote earth sensing system by integrating the space- and ground-based capabilities of its member states, to include Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, by 2019.

“In the first half of 2018, the Eurasian Economic Commission plans to draft an intergovernmental agreement and an intergovernmental program on integrating the existing orbital and ground space system resources belonging to EAEU members, as well as expanding a joint remote earth sensing satellite constellation. The start of operations of such a joint constellation is planned for 2019,” Nikolai Kushnaryov, Director of the Department of Industrial Policies at the Eurasian Economic Commission, told the Izvestia newspaper.

The EAEU remote sensing project involves the creation of a commercial company that will integrate the space- and ground-based systems and provide satellite imaging to global customers, Kushnaryov explained. The provision of this satellite imagery will through an integrated web portal that will allow users to monitor urban and industrial areas, infrastructure and transport corridors, as well as agricultural land management applications. Not mentioned by EAEU, but presumably available, will be satellite imagery for security applications.

Russia has a variety of civilian earth observation satellites, such as its Kanopus and Resurs satellites, that it will presumably provide to the new EAEU commercial company, while Belarus operates the BKA (formerly known as Belka-2) earth observation satellite, said to be based on the Russian Kanopus earth observation satellite design. Kazakhstan operates KazEOSat-1 and -2, both built by Airbus Defence and Space, and will launch KazSTSAT, built by Surrey Satellite, sometime in 2017. Armenia and Kyrgyzstan do not operate earth observation satellites, but are presumably offering ground-based capabilities towards the EAEU project.

The Izvestia newspaper also quoted Eurasian Economic Commission sources who claim that it plans to jointly produce next-generation earth observation satellites, with plans to launch the first EAEU satellite by 2020. Funding for the earth observation project is expected to be provided by the Eurasian Development Bank, which has suggested that it is interested in the project.

Should the EAEU project come together it will be an alternative, if less capable, source of satellite imagery for Middle East customers, as well as users in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

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