Sunday, December 2, 2007

Algeria celebrates the 5th anniversary of its first satellite

Guildford, UK, November 28, 2007: This week, Algeria celebrates the 5th anniversary of its first satellite, AlSAT-1 which marked the beginning of the country's national space programme. Five years on, the African nation not only benefits from improved cartography, pollution monitoring and petrology information, but also makes a significant contribution to international disaster response.

AlSAT-1 was launched on November 28, 2002 following the creation of the Algerian Space Agency (ASAL) by presidential decree on the January 16, 2002. British company SSTL built AlSAT-1 and provided training for engineers from the Centre National des Techniques Spatiales (CNTS) as part of a development and training programme that helped the country take its first steps into space.

AlSAT-1 was the first satellite in the 5-satellite Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC). Under the coordination of SSTL's subsidiary, DMCii Ltd, DMC satellite owners share image data and the infrastructure required to operate their satellite.

Algeria has developed a national space programme that takes full advantage of their satellite and DMC partnership for the benefit of the Algerian people. CNTS distributes satellite image data to Algerian institutions for cartography, pollution monitoring and petrology applications. This summer, AlSAT-1 was used to assess the damage of devastating forest fires in areas such as Djebel Belezma and Beni Fedhla, supplemented with additional data from the DMC.

AlSAT-1 also makes a valuable contribution to the DMC and assists international disaster response through the International Charter: Space and Major Disasters. Dr Azzedine Oussedik, Director General, Algerian Space Agency, explained: "We are proud of our national space programme and of our role in establishing the DMC. As a member of the DMC Consortium, we are effectively extending the reach of our capability by sharing the significant space asset that a constellation affords – a benefit enjoyed by all the DMC partners. We also earn a financial return on our investment by supplying images to DMCii for commercial purposes such as precision agriculture."

AlSAT-1 was built with a 5 year design life but is expected to continue operations for the foreseeable future. Like the other satellites in the DMC, AlSAT-1 was built by SSTL with a 32m optical imaging payload capable of imaging areas as large as 640 x 560 km very rapidly. The next generation of DMC satellites currently under manufacture at SSTL, namely NigeriaSat-2 (Nigeria), UK-DMC2 (UK) and Deimos-1 (Spain) will offer increased resolution for more detailed Earth observation.

Algeria is keen to further develop its own space industry with particular interest in Earth observation and telecommunications and in 2006, the UK Minister for Science and Technology, on behalf of the British National Space Centre, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Algerian Space Agency (ASAL).

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