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Azerbaijan Mulling New Earth Observation Satellite; Georgia Discusses Access To AzerSky-1

Artist’s depiction of AzerSky Earth Observation satellite (formerly SPOT-7). Image courtesy of Airbus Defence and Space.

Azerbaijan’s state space corporation, Azercosmos, will examine the economic and commercial feasibility of building additional Earth observation satellites in its approved 2019-2022 state programme for remote sensing, according to a report by the Trend News Agency.

Azercosmos already operates the Airbus-built AzerSky-1 Earth observation satellite, and through Airbus Defence and Space, has access to the Pléiades-1A and -1B high-resolution Earth observation satellites. Azercosmos also operates two communications satellites, Azerspace-1 and Azerspace-2.

“Approval of the state programme for development of remote sensing of the Earth for 2019-2022 is aimed at active usage of the resources of the existing Azersky satellite,” Azercosmos told Trend News Agency. “The main goal of the state programme is to support the socio-economic and technological development of Azerbaijan through the use of satellite observation services. This state programme will create the possibility of applying the latest technologies in remote sensing. Preparation is underway for the implementation of the state programme, and the issues of its implementation will be discussed in the near future with the relevant structures.”

Azercosmos uses Earth observation satellites for everything ranging from resource management and environmental monitoring through to national security and disaster response applications.

Trend News Agency also reports that Azerbaijan’s South Caucasus neighbor Georgia is in discussions with Azercosmos about accessing the AzerSky Earth observation satellite for the stated purposes of resource management and environmental monitoring, though national security applications cannot be ruled out either.

“There are plans to use AzerSky’s resources in agriculture and ecology,” a source in Azercosmos familiar with the Georgian discussions told Trend News Agency.

Azerbaijan is the leading space power in the Caucasus region, with neighbouring Georgia having had only one science and technology demonstrator satellite, Reflektor, put in orbit in the late 1990’s with assistance from Russia.

Azerbaijan’s other Caucasus neighbour, and geopolitical arch-rival, Armenia, also has no presence in space but is reportedly acquiring a Russian-built communications satellite and also entered into an agreement recently with India to develop human and technological space capacity and expertise.

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