Scientists join orbit of absolutely new research

Minsk hosts 5th International Space Congress

By Vladimir Bibikov

Belarus still lacks its own satellite orbiting the Earth, yet has claim to the title of being a cosmic state. Several Belarusians have been into space, while the country boasts a strong space industry, supplying Russian satellites with materials and components. Belarus has signed intergovernmental agreements with Russia and Ukraine, envisaging the peaceful mastering of the cosmos. Joint sci-tech programmes have been realised for several years, with a Belarusian-Russian orbital group of satellites and land infrastructure for its servicing crowning the process.

Many of these topics were covered by almost 150 reports delivered at Minsk’s Congress, by outstanding scientists and heads of Belarusian, Russian, Ukrainian and other states’ space enterprises. In particular, they discussed how best to use satellite data: to prevent natural disasters resulting from earthquakes and tsunami; to observe forests and fields; to prepare weather forecasts; and to foresee technogenic disasters. 

The launch of a Belarusian satellite — designed and produced by domestic scientists — remains a key issue. It differs from rivals in being smaller and lighter, while having a longer operating life and boasting higher resolution. Jointly with Russian ‘Kanopus-B’, the Belarusian satellite is to monitor Belarus, warning a terrestrial centre of possible emergencies.

Importantly, the Earth based infrastructure is ready. “The Belarusian satellite is undergoing pre-flight tests now, with the launch planned for 2012,” explains the First Deputy Chairman of the Belarusian National Academy of Sciences’ Presidium, Piotr Vityaz. “It will be a new stage in our sci-tech progress, as Belarus is currently giving birth to a whole new industry of Earth and cosmic studies, using its knowledge in various spheres of the economy.”

Hundreds of exhibits were on show at the Congress as part of an exhibition demonstrating the latest sci-tech achievements. Visitors could see how Belarus plans to use its first satellite to warn of forest fire and illegal timber cutting — in real time. Prompt measures can be taken where situations occur. Moreover, the state of peat deposits (a natural treasure of Belarus) can be observed from above, as can new oil deposits — in Belarus and beyond. Congress participants noted that the Belarusian satellite’s data could easily be sold abroad.

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