TBY talks to Gabdullatif Murzakulov, President of Kazakhstan Gharysh Sapary, on the company’s 2020 vision, international partnerships, and the global navigation project.
TBY What are the main characteristics of the company’s 2020 vision?
GABDULLATIF MURZAKULOV All of our projects have the full political support of the Prime Minister. The National Space Agency has a strategic development plan for 2011-2015, and this plan was approved by the government in February 2011. Additionally, under the Space Agency’s jurisdiction, we have drawn up a development plan for 2011-2020. Our strategy has also been adopted by government resolution. The main project, which we are now working on, is a national space center, which in itself is a mega project consisting of several smaller projects. The largest of these is a spacecraft assembly and testing complex. That is where we are creating the heart and brains of the complex, a specialized design office of space technology (SKTB). It operates in conjunction with the spacecraft assembly and testing facility. The strategic plan foresees the completion of SKTB by December 2012 and the spacecraft assembly and testing complex by July 2013. Thus, we are creating a production base for the space industry. The second project that we are carrying out at the National Space Center is a Earth remote-sensing space system. It consists of two segments: the ground complex and the space segment. The latter includes two spacecraft. One unit will carry a high-resolution payload with one-meter resolution. It will have the capacity to scan 220,000 sqm per day with a swath width of 20 kilometers. The device is planned to start operating in December 2014. It will be manufactured in France in conjunction with our strategic partner EADS Astrium. The partnership agreement was signed during French President Sarkozy’s visit to Astana in 2009 and President Nazarbayev’s visit to Paris in 2010.
How important are international partnerships?
The second spacecraft has a medium 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. This satellite, built in cooperation with the UK and France, will be launched in December 2013. With our British partners we are producing a medium-resolution payload in the UK. While we create our funds and power, we purchase the satellites from the French side. Starting in 2014, we will be doing it on our own. To do this we are building a specialized design office. We invest in our human resources. Our objective is to provide technology transfer. Thus, we are creating not only an industrial and technological base for the space industry, but also developing staff to ensure that our people can design
projects themselves. From 2013, we will start sending people to France so that they learn how to maintain and operate spacecraft. We just signed a contract with another European company, IABG from Germany, which has 50 years of experience in the testing of space technology and we will work with it as an external consultant.
What is the practical use of these endeavors?
First of all, for three years we will train 130 people who will acquire practical skills in designing, manufacturing, and assembling spacecraft. This will have a great impact on the quality of human capital. Secondly, if Kazakhstan can manufacture spacecraft domestically, money will be saved. Thirdly, the whole world is now using satellite images more extensively than ever. For example, the US established the National Spatial Data Infrastructure System (NSDI), the satellite imagery archive that has been used in daily life for 20 years now. In turn, Europe began to adopt this idea only five years ago. On the basis of our satellite images we will create such a system. Around 20 years ago we established the national system of space monitoring (NSKM). The main components of space monitoring are three pillars: a database, satellite ranges, and geo-portals, through which there will be access to this information database. We hope to release the status of fires and floods through the online system.
How do you seek to improve the global navigation capacity of Kazakhstan?
The global navigation project focuses on the establishment of ground infrastructure of highly accurate satellite navigation systems covering the entire territory of Kazakhstan. In the world today there are two global navigation systems: GPS and Russia’s Glonass. So far, we have cooperated with the Russian Glonass system. It consists of three subsystems: a spacecraft subsystem, a control management subsystem, and a subsystem of consumer navigation equipment. We are now building a system that consists of 60 stations in the territory of Kazakhstan and is much better than GPS. We can give the consumer the ability to control their traffic flows and their vehicles. To do this we created a differential monitoring center in Astana. We have a mobile station differential correction. And now we are building a naval differential regional station in the city of Aktau.
What opportunities are there within your project for foreign investors? What role can the private sector play in the development of this project?
Kazakhstan needs only 20% of the remote sensing capacity of its satellite resources. The remaining 80% can be used by foreign investors. The second effect is that by investing in our projects, investors can join us to have a portion of the proceeding benefits. We are now living in a world of global information, navigation, and connections, and all these must be combined with global reach. In the long run, and in the second phase of development, we will be attracting private investment. Now, we have to show investors the possibility of a multiplier effect. The concluding remarks of the TransEurasia-2011 conference highlights the significance of the regular use of space technologies in the transport and freight logistics flows throughout Eurasia. Hence, it is our goal to create an international group of technical experts, as well as to integrate satellite systems in the Customs Union and Eurasia, which will streamline and consolidate the efforts of all states to improve the efficiency of transport and logistics systems.
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