Kazakhstan Space Agency Makes Advances

Yerkin ShaymagombetovKazakhstan’s space industry is one of the newest and highest priority areas of state policy. Today, the most important functions of Kazakhstan’s national space agency (Kazkosmos), created in 2007 by a presidential decree, are promoting and further developing this high tech industry and interacting with leading foreign countries and international organisations in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.

Deputy chairman of the agency, Yerkin Shaymagambetov elaborated upon recent progress and prospects.

Please tell us a little bit about the national space agency’s international outreach.

Kazkosmos has enacted intergovernmental agreements on space cooperation with the governments of Russia, Ukraine, France, Israel and China and signed agreements on the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes with the German, British, Swedish, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Emirati, Saudi and Thai space agencies.

We are in contact with the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Belarus and the Netherlands’ Space Office. Next year, we plan to sign an intergovernmental agreement with Belarus and an interdepartmental agreement with the Netherlands on cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space.

Who are our key partners?

Undoubtedly, the most important priority for us is collaboration with Russia. One of our main areas of cooperation is the use of Baikonur, which is currently under lease. Recall that in 2004, the presidents of Kazakhstan and Russia signed an agreement on cooperation and the use of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, according to which, the lease was extended until 2050. This document also stipulates that Russia will fully promote participation with the Republic of Kazakhstan on projects related to the creation and use of new environmentally friendly space-rocket complexes and other joint projects and programmes.

After that, the signing of the intergovernmental agreement on the creation of the environmentally friendly space rocket complex Baiterek took place.

One of the largest projects currently being implemented with Russia is the creation of the KazSat satellite communications and broadcasting system. On July 16, 2011, the satellite KazSat 2 was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Now, the Russian company Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems is building the KazSat 3 satellite. Its launch is scheduled for April 2014. In addition, two ground control complexes were built in the Akmola and Almaty regions.

Moreover, on May 22, 2008, an intergovernmental agreement in cooperation on the use and development of the Russian global satellite navigation system, GLONASS, was signed. Kazakhstan Gharysh Sapary (a state owned company) is working on the formation of ground infrastructure for Kazakhstan’s highly precise satellite navigation system (SNS) through the creation of regional differential satellite navigation systems using GLONASS and American GPS.

What contacts have been established in this area with other CIS countries?

At Kazakhstan’s suggestion, space cooperation between CIS states is facilitated through annual meetings of high ranking space agency officials.

Thus, at the recent fourth meeting of these officials in Yevpatoria (Ukraine) in July of this year, participants confirmed their interest in joint space exploration and the priorities established by the CIS Development Concept and Action Plan for the second phase (2012-2015) of the 2020 CIS Economic Development Strategy.

One of the areas of such cooperation is the joint exploitation of SRC Zenith. No less important for Kazakhstan is bilateral space cooperation with Ukraine in such areas as space technology, joint research and the training of RK space programme personnel in Ukrainian universities. Kazakhstan is also interested in participation in the Dnepr programme for the commercial launch of space satellites using the MBR PS-20 commercial system, designed by the Russian-Ukrainian-Kazakh company MCC Kosmotras. The first Kazakh remote sensing satellite will be launched with this programme.

As for cooperation with the nations of the far abroad, intergovernmental agreements signed with France in October 2009 partnered state owned Kazakhstan Gharysh Sapary, with French EADS Astrium on two major projects. The first entails the creation of a remote sensing system consisting of an orbital group of high and medium resolution RS satellites, a ground control complex and a ground target centre for receiving and processing satellite data and housing the information transmissions system. The project, alongside the development of high space technologies, is focused on environmental protection and the assurance of national security.

The second project involves the creation of an assembly and testing complex for spacecraft. It is currently under construction in Astana.

In March of this year, during a visit to London, a Kazkosmos delegation signed a memorandum of understanding with the UK Space Agency on cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes that entails the creation of a space system for scientific and technological applications (COP NTN).

The agency also continues to develop bilateral cooperation with China, a country that mastered independent manned spaceflight and is a member of the space superpower club.  On September 7, 2013, during an official visit of the Chinese president to Kazakhstan, an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes was signed. On September 23, 2013 in Beijing, during the 64th International Astronautic Congress, the Kazkosmos delegation headed by Talgat Mussabayev met with leaders of the National Space Administration and space enterprises of China. The Chinese side expressed strong interest in bilateral cooperation and an agreement was reached on developing collaboration in four areas: manned space flight, the use of RK and Chinese remote sensing satellites, telecommunications satellites and space science development.

Also, the RK National Centre for Space Research and Technology, jointly with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, is working on global space monitoring of emergencies and natural disasters using remote sensing.

The continuation of international cooperation, Kazakhstan’s acquisition of advanced know-how from other countries and the transfer of space technology leads to a more agile and effective national space industry.