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February 11, 2013

Azerbaijan Launches Its First Telecommunications Satellite into Space

By Shankar Pandiath, TMCnet Contributor

Azerbaijan has registered its presence in space by successfully launching its first telecommunications satellite, the Azerspace / Africasat-1a into orbit from French Guyana.

The hi-tech telecommunications satellite project was a part of the $205 million agreement between Azercosmos and Orbital Sciences (News - Alert) Corporation. Azercosmos, established in year 2010 by the Decree of the President of Azerbaijan, is owned by Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Communications and IT.

The telecommunications satellite, the Azerspace / Africasat-1a will provide satellite-aided communications services and will also serve as a reliable satellite platform to its broadband, broadcasting and government customers. In addition, the Republic has future satellite projects in the pipeline, which will help Azerbaijan take giant strides in the IT and communication industry.

Orbital Sciences Corporation designed, built and delivered the satellite to Azercosmos. The US and Azerbaijan have been supportive of each other and have an excellent bilateral relationship. Azerbaijan is America’s largest trade partner from the southern part of Cauzasus. The satellite was constructed in Virginia, U.S. and the contract created 1,500 jobs in U.S.

Elin Suleymanov, the Azerbaijan Ambassador to the United States was thrilled about the launch of his country’s first telecommunications satellite and said that it was not only a proud day of the country, but also marks an important milestone for the successful and continued partnership between the US and the Republic of Azerbaijan. He also added that the satellite will not only address the current and future communications needs of Azerbaijan and the Caucasus Region, but also Europe, Central Asia and Africa.

Ali Ahmadov, the Deputy Chairman - Executive Secretary of the New Azerbaijan Party stated in the party’s official website that this was a significant event and reflected Azerbaijan's rapid and comprehensive development. He also congratulated the President Aliyev, who he felt was the person responsible for the initiation of such an ambitious project. He also felt that it is a landmark event in the history of Azerbaijan and congratulated the Azerbaijani people on the occasion of this event.

The Azerspace / Africasat-1a satellite is a milestone for Azerbaijan and for South Caucasus as it is the region’s first national telecom satellite. It will offer internet, voice, data and broadcasting services to the region and has an estimated mission life period of 15 years. Azercosmos will take control from Orbital whose control centers are located in Baku and Nakhchivan. Azerbaijan will take over the operational control of the satellite once Orbital completes its in-orbit testing.

Edited by Ashley Caputo

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