Kazakhstan’s Space Program Gets another Assist from Surrey

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PARIS — British small-satellite manufacturer Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL), furthering its involvement in Kazakhstan’s nascent space program, on July 1 said it would provide an Earth observation satellite and satellite-platform technologies for future spacecraft following a contract with Ghalam LLP of Kazakhstan.

Ghalam is a joint venture of Kazakhstan Garysh Sapary (KGS) and EADS Astrium of Europe, which owns SSTL.

The contract follows the October 2009 agreement between Astrium and the Kazakh government to embark on a broad satellite development effort whose long-term goal is to create an autonomous Kazakh satellite manufacturing capability. 

The 2009 agreement, which was signed during a bilateral French-Kazakh summit and valued at 230 million euros ($336 million), calls for Astrium to provide a high-resolution Earth observation satellite to Kazakhstan, and for SSTL to provide a medium-resolution spacecraft.

The SSTL and Astrium satellites being built under the 2009 agreement are scheduled for launches in 2014.

In March, the UK Space Agency concluded a memorandum of understanding under which Kazakh personnel would be trained by SSTL through exchanges with KGS. In its July 1 announcement, SSTL said 16 Kazakh engineers have worked in Britain under the previous agreement.

SSTL said the new satellite would include an SSTL-built EarthMapper payload for commercial Earth observation imagery in addition to other payload elements including an on-board computer. A smaller satellite, to carry an instrument for ionospheric research, will be developed by SSTL and Ghalam.