Azerbaijan successfully launched its first telecommunications satellite into orbit on 7 February.
The “Azerspace-1/Africasat-1a” satellite, at an estimated cost of $120 million, was sent into space from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana and will provide telecommunications services to Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and North Africa by means of it’s payload of a total of 36 transponders. It is expected to have a life expectancy of 15 years, according to RFE/RL.
The satellite disengaged from an Ariane 5 rocket, according to an official press release on the company’s website, at 6:36 pm local time. The mission was Arianespace’s 54th consecutive successful Ariane 5 launch and set the standard for independent access to space, according to the satellite launch company. Virgina-based Orbital Sciences Corp., built the satellite and will be responsible for its ground systems.
Ziyad Samedzade of the economic policy standing committee of Azerbaijan’s Parliament claims that the feat displays “the country’s economic strength. Only economically powerful countries can achieve it,” Azertac reports. He added, “The first communications satellite will certainly bring economic dividends for Azerbaijan. We will see the results of this in future.”
After watching the launch live with his wife, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev congratulated the nation on milestone in the country’s history. He said in an official statement “This proves that the independent Azerbaijan is rapidly and comprehensively developing, and the country is already a member of the space club,” he said. He also said Azerbaijan plans to launch two more rockets in 2015 and 2016.
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