Azerbaijan: Onward march of space industry progress
By Ayya Lmahamad
New technologies have become so ordinary and commonplace that we do not think about how and why they were created.
There are many examples proving that investments in space technology and research bring enormous profits when applied to the economy.
Solar panels, originally developed for spacecraft, eventually led to the emergence of solar power. Navigators, without which it is hard to imagine how we used to drive, were originally developed exclusively for military purposes. Space technologies gave mankind new medicine - magnetic resonance and computer tomography, equipment for hemodialysis and cardioangiography, defibrillators, etc.
Satellite communications, satellite television, and the internet have improved the quality of life for people around the world.
Against the background of global space achievements, Azerbaijan is also moving forward in the space industry sphere, which is one of the significant and successfully developing areas in the country.
Azerbaijan’s space sector
Widespread use of information and communication technologies serves the overall development of the country and is of particular importance in terms of national security in the information sphere.
For the last couple of years, Azerbaijan has witnessed dynamic development in the information and communication technology sector. This trend suggests that in the near future this sector, along with the energy sector may become one of the leading directions of the country's economy.
The work on the creation of the space industry in the country began in 1974 with the establishment in Baku of the South-East Center for Natural Resource Studies with the use of space technology. In the same year, the "Special Design Bureau of Space Device Engineering" was established under the Azerbaijani Academy of Sciences, and space researches began.
Today a state structure, the National Aerospace Agency, subordinated to the Defence Industry Ministry, directly engaged in the creation of space equipment and technologies and solving various applied problems with the use of aerospace data, operates in the country.
In 2018, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev approved the state program for 2019-22 to develop services of domestic satellites. This document should give a new impetus to the development of the use of satellite observation data by various government agencies and private companies to solve a number of important economic problems, in particular, environmental, ecological, agricultural, emergency situations, urban development, the laying of transport communications, etc.
National space achievements
In 1973, the International Astronautical Congress, which has been held annually since 1950, was held in Baku on national leader Heydar Aliyev's initiative.
In February 2013, Azerbaijan launched its first telecommunications satellite Azerspace-1 into orbit, and a year later sent into space a satellite for remote observation of the Earth's surface with geoinformation services Azersky. In 2018, the third Azerbaijani satellite Azerspace-2 appeared in orbit, operated by Azercosmos. The satellite is controlled by Azerbaijani specialists.
This sector is very important for the overall growth, development of the non-oil sector, improvement of the business environment, and increasing the intellectual potential of the country.
Currently, the first and only satellite operator in the South Caucasus, Azercosmos provides telecommunication and geological exploration satellite services. In 2020, the company has exported services worth $45.1 million to 33 countries. The main countries to which Azercosmos exported services in 2020 were France, the UK, the USA, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates.
In 2020, Azerbaijan created the Space Council.
Role of Azerbaijanis in space exploration
Baku-born cosmonaut Musa Manarov set a record for the duration of a human stay in orbit, spending 365 days in space, thereby making him part of the Guinness Book of World Records.
Fuzuli Farajov is an Azerbaijani who directly participated in the creation of the famous Buran spaceplane, holder of the honorary medal of the Russian Federation of Cosmonautics named after Russian and Soviet rocket scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky.
Azerbaijan's Karim Karimov played an exceptional role in the production of the R-2 rocket. On October 4, 1957, one of these rockets launched the world's first artificial satellite into space, beginning the space era on the planet. In 1975 he supervised the preparation of the joint Soviet-American flight "Soyuz" - "Apollo".
The conquest of outer space is a determinant of the economy and national security. With countries and companies racing to explore space, the sector is likely to see massive changes in the next 30 years.
Ayya Lmahamad is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AyyaLmahamad
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