Exactly a year has passed since the launch of the first Azerbaijani telecommunications satellite Azerspace/Africasat-1a. Azerbaijan became a member of the international space club on February 8, 2013. The country became the third country in the CIS and the only one in the region that owns its own satellite.
The launch of the satellite became the confirmation of the country's success in various fields ranging from socio-political to economic.
Azerspace/Africasat-1a satellite was launched into the orbit by the Ariane 5 ECA launcher, part of the French Arianespace company. Azerspace/Africasat-1a satellite was launched from the start complex ELA-3 at the Guiana Space Center. The satellite's service life in orbit will be up to 15 years. Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia and North Africa are included in the service area of Azerspace/Africasat-1a.
Its launch was the first step in the implementation of prospective projects on turning Azerbaijan into a country with a space industry. The existence of a national satellite establishes qualitative and reliable communication, ensures the creation of VSAT multi-service networks, renders digital television services, Internet access, as well as ensuring information independence and forming a common information space.
The Azerspace/Africasat-1a resources will be used in the future to ensure the security of oil and gas pipeline projects used to deliver the energy resources of Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea region to world markets.
Profits from the operation of the Azerspace/Africasat-1 satellite are expected to reach $420 million.
It is expected that the investments put into the project will be repaid within seven years from the date of its launch. In the next 15 years Azerbaijan's revenues from the launch of the first telecommunications satellite - Azerspace/Africasat-1 will be $650 million over its operation period in the orbit.
In the first eight months of 2013 (the commercial use of the satellite was launched in May), the income from the first satellite program amounted to $10 million.
Azerbaijan's satellite operator Azerkosmos JSC has realized over 50 percent of the satellite's resources. Over 70 TV and radio channels are being broadcasted via the satellite.
Azerkosmos estimates that Azerbaijan's domestic demand in satellite capacity is 20 percent.
Today Azerbaijan follows the path of formation of a whole group of satellites.
Azerbaijan's future plans include launching the second telecommunications satellite Azerspace-2. The satellite is scheduled to be delivered into orbit in 2017.
The second satellite program of Azerbaijan will also have a commercial character. The satellite will be designed to provide digital TV services, data transmission, creation of multi-service networks, and so on.
The use of satellites for remote sensing of Earth, cartographic and geological studies and other activities is also important. Azerbaijan's plans for 2015 include launching a low earth orbit (LEO) satellite.
The remote sensing satellite that Azerbaijan plans to launch will fly over the country only once in every 40 rotations. The rest of the time it will fly over other countries. Accordingly, it will allow Azerbaijan as the owner of the satellite, to receive foreign requests for filming this or that area, which would be economically advantageous for the country.