Thursday, April 12, 2018

Belarus Eyes Launch of Its Second Remote Sensing Satellite

Engineers working on the BKA-1 satellite. Photo Credit: VNIIEM.

Belarus is on path to launch its second remote sensing satellite, according to latest remarks made by the country’s prime minister. However, the officials have not yet revealed the exact launch date of the spacecraft.

The satellite, named BKA-2, will be a remote sensing spacecraft, built by the Russian corporation VNIIEM, what was confirmed lately by the Belarusian Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov.

“Belarus has been actively working on a new Earth remote sensing satellite together with Russian partners. We expect that this work will be complete soon and the second Belarusian satellite will be sent to orbit,” Kobyakov said, addressing the Executive Committee of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) on March 23.

The agreement between the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus and VNIIEM to develop the BKA-2 satellite dates back to August 2015. As part of the contract, VNIIEM was obligated to manufacture a satellite for the “high-resolution remote sensing of the Earth”.

Back then, the Belarusian side set the BKA-2 launch date for 2019. According to Sergei Zolotoi, Chief Designer of the Belarusian space system for the remote sensing of the Earth, the decision that four years are needed to complete the development of the spacecraft, was made after consultation with Roscosmos.

“The practical work on the satellite has begun. Technical parameters are being agreed now. Plans have been made to launch the satellite by 2019. The plans are synchronized with the Russian space agency Roscosmos. This is why we plan to finish working on launching BKA-2 in 2019,” Zolotoi said.

However, the 2019 liftoff date is still uncertain as Kobyakov did not made any remarks last month regarding the possible launch window.

According to BelTA, the Belarusian news agency, BKA-2 satellite is designed to enable making topographic maps with the 1:10,000 scale. The spacecraft’s instruments will be provided by the Belarusian company Peleng.

BKA-2 will be most likely similar in design to BKA-1 - Belarusian first remote sensing satellite providing imagery for various customers, including the Belarusian government. BKA-1 was launched into space on July 22, 2012 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for a five-year mission. However, in January 2017, its operational life was extended to late 2018.

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