Kazakhstan is home to the world’s first and largest space center, the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Built in the 1950s, the center has witnessed many historical space missions, such as the 1961 launch of the first manned space rocket carrying Yuri Gagarin. After Kazakhstan’s independence, the Baikonur Cosmodrome was leased to Russia, with the bilateral agreement now extended until 2050.
Kazakhstan started to develop an active independent national space industry in 2005 with the creation of Gharysh Sapary. In 2006 the first Kazakhstani satellite, KazSat-1, was launched into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, but was lost in late 2008. Since July 2011, the second Kazakhstani satellite, KazSat-2, has been operating as the country’s only satellite. A third satellite will be launched in 2013. “[It] has an average resolution of 6.5 meters. It can cover 1 million sqm a day and within 30 days can completely cover the entire territory of Kazakhstan,” Gabdullatif Murzakulov, President of Gharysh Sapary, told TBY. The satellite, built in cooperation with the UK and France, “will be launched in December 2013,” he added.
Gharysh Sapary was later brought under the National Space Agency, KazCosmos, established in 2007 by presidential decree. Currently, the sector is guided by a state program for the 2009-2020 period focusing on the development of a comprehensive base of space technologies. In addition to the development of space systems and ground infrastructure, the authorities also look to create a sturdy legal framework for the industry and train specialists. “Provided Kazakhstan’s vast territory and rich resources, space is an area of geopolitical, economic, scientific, and practical interest,” Talgat Musabayev Chairman of
KazCosmos, told TBY. “Without involvement in space activities, it is extremely difficult to create a common information space, to study and rationally use natural resources, or to conduct environmental monitoring in our country.”
Garysh Sapary started construction of the country’s first space center in Astana in July 2010. The assembly, integration, and testing complex (AITC) is slated to be the heart of the center, where a wide range of manufacturing, design, operation, and testing will take place. The space center also comprises an Earth remote-sensing system (ERSS) for topographical and exploration purposes as well as surveying natural disasters and the ecology. Gharysh Sapary is also working on creating a high-accuracy satellite navigation system, which will add value to a wide spectrum of areas including transportation management and national security. The authorities have also brought international partners on board, with Gharysh Sapary establishing a joint venture with EADS Astrium from France, in which the former holds a 72.5% stake. In recent years, KazCosmos also signed cooperation agreements with numerous other countries including Germany, Japan, Korea, Israel, India, and China, while keeping its relationship with its historical partners Russia and Ukraine close. “KazCosmos is actively developing international cooperation with foreign countries and international organizations for the efficient development of its space activities, and is attracting world-class technologies,” Musabayev told TBY, adding “This will allow Kazakhstan to create a space industry and begin to use space science, engineering, and technology for economic development, safety, and the welfare of its citizens as quickly and effectively as possible.”
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