Egypt’s latest high-resolution Earth observation satellite, EGYPTSAT-A, was successfully launched on board a Soyuz launch vehicle with a Fregat upper stage from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan late on 21 February 2019.
While EGYPTSAT-A was eventually placed in its intended orbit at 650 kilometres altitude, there were reportedly some issues with the Fregat upper stage that initially placed the satellite in a lower orbit. After the Fregat engines performed a number of firings, however, it appears that EGYPTSAT-A was successfully placed in the correct orbit at a 98 degree inclination to the Equator.
The launch of the EGYPTSAT-A Earth observation satellite was the first Russian launch of 2019.
EGYPTSAT-A is a dual-use satellite, however, and will also be used by Egyptian authorities for other taskings such as resource management, environmental monitoring, and securing critical infrastructure.
EGYPTSAT-A (also known as MisrSat-2) is Egypt’s third Earth observation satellite. The satellite is jointly built by Egypt’s National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences (NARSSS) together with RSC Energia in Russia and is estimated to have cost about U.S.$100 million. The imaging payload was developed by OAO Peleng and NIRUP Geoinformatsionnye Sistemy in Belarus.
According to reporting in the Egyptian press, and as previously reported by SpaceWatch.Global, some of the costs of EGYPTSAT-A’s construction and integration has been defrayed by grants provided by the Chinese government.
The satellite is an improved version of EGYPTSAT-2 (that cost an estimated U.S.$45 million and failed in orbit in 2015) and is also based on RSC Energia’s 559GK bus, which inherits technologies from their USP platform. The satellite features SPD-70 electric engines using Xenon gas. It features improved electro-optical and onboard control systems, high-speed on-board radio link, and solar cells with increased efficiency.