Space race in the Baltics in full swing

Dec 7, 2012
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Latvia recently stole the lead in the Baltic space race, stating it would launch its first satellite into orbit early next year.

Dana Reizniece-Ozola, a member of the Latvian parliament, made the announcement last week shortly after Lithuania said it would launch its own satellite next summer.

“The Lithuanians announced their plans during a space industry conference, where, naturally, everyone wants to say something good about their own country,” Reizniece-Ozola told LETA. “Nevertheless, we are confident that we will be the first ones to launch our satellite into orbit.”

A previous plan called for the Latvian satellite, Venta-1, to be launched from a spaceport in India at the end of 2011, but arrangements are now being made for a launch with a Russian carrier rocket in the first months of 2013. The Lithuanians intend to launch their rocket, Lituanica-1, through a Japanese rocket headed for the international space station.



Lithuania debuted its nano-satellite, which weighs less than 1.3 kilograms (2.9 pounds) and fits into a 10 cubic centimeter (0.6 cubic inch) container, at an international space conference in Vilnius last week. The satellite ambitiously includes a re-entry capsule that will deposit a payload of about 100 grams (3.5 ounces) back on Earth after six months in orbit.

Latvia’s Venta-1 will provide real-time navigation information through digital cameras and an automated system that communicates with stations in Latvia, Germany, and Italy.

As with Estonia’s EstCube-1 satellite, the Latvian and Lithuanian prototypes were created by student teams working in collaboration with universities in Germany and the United Kingdom. The Latvian government has allocated $94,000 to help with next year’s launch, while Lituanica-1 is costing Lithuania an estimated $379,000.

All three Baltic nations have space programs but have not breached the Earth’s atmosphere since the collapse of the Soviet Union.


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Transitions Online

Transitions Online ( is an Internet magazine that covers political, social, cultural, and economic issues in the former communist countries of Europe and Central Asia. The magazine has a strong network of local contributors, who provide valuable insight into events in the region’s 29 countries.
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