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Kazakhstan And Uzbekistan SATCOM Cooperation And Central Asian Earth Observation Satellite System

The supermoon is seen behind the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft set on the launch pad at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on November 14, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV

The governments of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are considering the joint construction and operation of a communications satellite, and are also looking at proposing a Central Asian Earth observation satellite constellation consisting of five satellites.

The Kazakh Ministry of Defense and Aerospace Industry revealed the joint communications satellite proposal at a press conference that unveiled its future plans, including the manufacture and operation of a satellite together with Uzbekistan, reported citing reports in the Kazakh media.

Director of the Department of International Military and Technical Cooperation, Aslanbek Syrlanov, said there are specific proposals on the table for the creation of a joint Kazakh-Uzbek communications satellite. It is proposed that the satellite will provide telecommunications services not only to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, but also to other countries in the Central Asian region.

“Currently, our Uzbek colleagues use foreign satellites. Therefore, it was proposed to jointly build one satellite,” said Syrlanov at the press conference, referring to the Kazakh-Uzbek satellite communications cooperation proposal.

Additionally, and as part of its cooperative efforts with other Central Asian countries, Kazakhstan is proposing to build five Earth observation satellites that will be able to capture satellite imagery of up to five metres resolution.

“In such case each Central Asian state will operate one satellite. But, at the same time, it will be possible to use data from all five devices. Thus, it will be possible to receive new pictures every day. All these proposals are put forward by Kazakhstan”, Syrlanov said.

The Central Asian states referred to here are Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan – all former Soviet Republics – and the location of intensifying geopolitical and geoeconomic competition and cooperation between Russia and China.

The Kazakh proposal for a shared Central Asian Earth observation system is reminiscent in some ways of the European MUltinational Space-based Imaging System for Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and Observation (MUSIS) that involves France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Belgium where French, German, Italian, and Spanish Earth observation satellites are accessed by partner states through a common and generic ground segment. MUSIS, however, has been mired in controversies over costs, access, and strategic purpose.

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