By Alexander Fiodorov
BelKa (the Belarusian space satellite) was a major topic of the space congress in Minsk, being originally planned for launch last spring. Speaking after the space congress, Piotr Vityaz, First Deputy Chairman of the Presidium of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, asked journalists at a special press conference ‘not to ask questions about the exact date of the satellite launch’, noting that it’s likely to take place next year.
“Space matters are complex,” explains Mr. Vityaz. “Everything needs to be checked multiple times. As far as our satellite is concerned, the terrestrial part is ready. All the various control systems now need to be tested, alongside the software — which is being overseen by the British.”
The chief engineer of Geoinformation Systems enterprise (of the Belarusian Academy of Sciences), the Deputy Chief Constructor of the Belarusian space Earth remote sensing system, Oleg Semenov, adds, “This is a completely new development, which requires numerous tests and checks. However, tests will be complete by next year.”
The Belarusian satellite is to be sent into orbit simultaneously with a Russian satellite, allowing Belarus to enjoy independent Earth remote sensing and saving money on the expensive services of other states. The new Belarusian satellite will be more manoeuvrable than its predecessor, weighing around 400kg and boasting definition to two metres. It will ensure full coverage of Belarusian territory from space.