Director of Kazcosmos told about situation in the industry and prospects of development
National cosmonautics greatly pleased Kazakh patriots in the past year. Millions compatriots of Aydin Aimbetov attentively watched his trainings for the remarkable flight, and then had an approving smiles in the faces when they saw the astronaut, already on board of the vehicle Soyuz TMA-18M, serving beshbarmak of horseflesh to his neighbors in the spacecraft. Having tasted all the delights of national unity, Kazakhstan once again expects new names from Kazkosmos. Space Agency Chairman Talgat Musabayev in an exclusive interview to Business Information Center Kapital.kz told about the expectations for new missions of Kazakhstan’s heroes and how in general, things are going in the space industry of the country.
Talgat Amangeldievich, emotions, laurels and pride for the new achievements of Kazakh astronauts - it's all there and it's good. But I want to ask you about profitability of your Department when crisis is raging dramatically. What are the main sources of income we have there and whether it exists – the profit?
- Indeed. Kazakhstan space activities started to gain the first revenues since November 2011, since commercial commissioning of communications and broadcasting satellite KazSat-2. Currently, the satellite communication and broadcasting system (hereinafter - SCS) of the KazSat series consists of two dual satellites, they are KazSat-2 and KazSat-3, as well as ground-based spacecraft control and monitoring systems of communication – Akkol, Satellite Communications Center in Akmola region, Kokterek - near Almaty city. This satellite system is primarily designed to meet the needs of Kazakhstan in regards of the fixed satellite communication channels, as well as to ensure information security. Based on the KazSat series satellites, communication operators arranged TV and radio broadcasting, satellite communication and data transmission throughout Kazakhstan. Currently, major Kazakh telecom operators, large national and private companies, force structures and government bodies use the lease services of transponder capacity of these satellites. As for the revenue part, it should be noted that for the period from November 2011 to October of this year, income from services of KazSat SCS amounted to around KZT 8 billion 147 million. There are other sources of income. At present, the sources include provision of satellite imagery and data processing services of space remote sensing system (hereinafter - the ERS CA), as well as the services of high-accuracy satellite navigation.
- And, could you indicate specific fields, representatives of which consume these services very intensively?
- Sure. There are lots of them. Presently, NC Kazakhstan Gharysh Sapary JSC, which is under supervision of Kazkosmos, provides commercial operation by type of services, which I have already mentioned, not only to the central and local state authorities, force structures and law enforcement agencies, but also to consumers - representatives of the business community. This is regarding to the mining firms, environmental companies, and to transportation, motor roads, railways and civil institutions. The data of the remote sensing system primarily intended to conduct operational monitoring, to address a number of specific problems in different sectors of the economy of our country. There are several types of monitoring and supervision to help ensure a safe life for the citizens of the republic, the defense capability and national security of the country – it is monitoring the border areas, areas of crisis situations, supervision of the infrastructure state of strategic and military facilities, identification and supervision of emergency situations, reduction of costs and saving time for information on regional processes, information processing and decision-making. The list of services of CS, ERS can also include monitoring for agriculture, oil and gas industry, transport sector, land and urban cadastre, and so on.
To be more specific, only for the first half of this year, there have been made more than 20 revenue contracts for the services. The figures speak for themselves.
- Past summer, it was announced that NC Kazakhstan Gharysh Sapary JSC would start commercial operation of the satellite KazEOSat-1. Any success in this area?
- High resolution satellite KazEOSat-1 was launched with Vega launch vehicle from Kuru (French Guiana) launch base, on April 30, 2014, its transfer to the ownership of Kazakhstan was held in June of this year, thereby giving the start of commercial operation of the satellite KazEOSat-1 by our subordinate JSC - NC Kazakhstan Gharysh Sapary. It is involved in commercials for providing services and products of space imaging satellite KazEOSat-1 as the ERS data: satellite imagery orthophotos, digital elevation and ground models, geographic information systems. In addition, Kazkosmos has made gradual promotion of domestic ERS data to the foreign market in alliance with one of the world leaders in distributing similar information – Geointelligence, considering global trends in the market of remote sensing, as well as the interests of the national economy, national defense and security. Success in the commercial exploitation of the KazEOSat-1 satellite is due to the fact that the market for remote sensing in Kazakhstan has a relatively high potential. A number of companies, mostly oil firms, based on these data have been already monitoring the sources of pollution and developing a variety of environmental programs on the routine basis. State authorities also use the satellite data for their work.
- How are things with KazEOSat-2?
- Kazakhstan's second remote sensing satellite KazEOSat-2 was launched with Dnepr launch vehicle from Yasniy launch base (Russia) on 20 June last year with. This medium resolution spacecraft has started its commercial operation in the end of July 2015. Now we can say that both satellites are flying in normal mode and successfully maintained by its operator.
- Let's go back to our KazSat. What is their value for Kazakhstan today?
- The main purpose of this system of satellites - to meet the needs of Kazakhstan in the fixed satellite services, ensuring information security and preventing the outflow of substantial funds abroad for leasing the similar resources of foreign satellites. KazSat series domestic telecommunications satellites allow providing efficient and reliable satellite links, which in turn are used to make a variety of telecommunication services to consumers, including access to the Internet and mobile communications. As I told earlier, at present Kazakhstan’s major telecommunication operators, national companies and state agencies use the services of leasing transponder capacity of KazSat satellites. In particular, NC Kazsatnet utilizes SCS resources to build KazSat Uniform transport medium of state authorities of the Republic, which creates conditions for the development of" e-government "," Uniform electronic document management system "of state authorities and other services in the state interest. By October 2015, KazSat-2 had running a network of 12 Kazakh companies, which provided telecommunication services and data transmission to end-users. Putting into commercial operation of KazSat-3 communication and broadcasting satellite in December 2014 has provided both dual backup of two communication satellites to be able to provide the most comfortable conditions for transition to the national operator of Kazakhstan’s KazSat, and fixed orbital position of 58,5º east longitude for Kazakhstan in the International Telecommunication Union. Due to the capacity of satellite KazSat-3 our Country significantly reduced the import of services for leasing satellite communications resources from foreign suppliers, and met the needs of the Country in the fixed satellite services completely. Currently, 5 Kazakhstan companies use the resources of KazSat-3.
We should not forget about the multiplier effect of KazSat operation, because there have been created new jobs, increased tax revenues to the state budget, raised the prestige of Kazakhstan in the World arena as a member of the club of space countries.
- Talgat Amangeldievich, that's about prestige, as far as I know, we are intensively developing our cooperation with several countries, can you tell us some details? For example, what is the current status of the partnership with Kosmotras, Russian-Ukrainian company?
- We have been partners since 2010. At that time NC Kazakhstan Gharysh Sapary JSC became one of the shareholders of the International Space Company Kosmotras, buying 10% stake of the company. Kosmotras undertakes a program for utilization of RS-20 intercontinental ballistic missiles, decommissioned and used Dnepr launcher for launching spacecrafts into orbit. Currently, 22 RS-20 missiles have been launched, dispatching 140 spacecrafts to the orbit of different countries as a result. The main customers of launch services are space agencies and companies in countries such as UK, USA, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, Japan and others. And thanks to the acquisition of 10% stake, Kazakhstan has become a full member of the program Dnepr and received a dividend of more than KZT 330 million within years.
- There are certain agreements with Egypt as well...
- Cooperation with Egypt re the satellite imagery is at an early stage of development and involves establishment of bilateral contacts in distributing digital images from Kazakhstan satellites KazEOSat-1 and KazEOSat-2. And by the way, now Egyptian Company for Space Applications and Remote Sensing has been exercising usage of experience of Kazakhstan in regards high-accuracy satellite navigation for Egypt. In general, regarding cooperation with our foreign partners, we have currently signed intergovernmental contracts in space cooperation with Russia, Ukraine, France, Israel and China. Kazkosmos has also signed international contracts in cooperation for exploration and use of the space for peaceful purposes with the space agencies of such countries as Germany, India, Thailand, Great Britain, Sweden, Japan, Korea, China, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands.
- Let’s talk more about prestige. Aydin Aimbetov’s flight as a member of the crew of launch vehicle Soyuz TMA-18M cost $ 20 million. At present, the ways of payment is under review, to my knowledge. And what is your assessment for the performance of the core mission of Aimbetov, Astronaut of Kazakhstan, in conducting scientific experimentations at the ISS?
- All the practical objectives of the scientific the fifth program of Kazakhstan, implemented by the third Kazakh astronaut Aydin Aimbetov during the recent flight - from 2 to 12 September of the current year to the ISS, have been completed totally. This program was developed by the National Center for Space Research and Technology of Kazkosmos and has been a continuation of science programs of space research and experiments, which had been performed byTokhtar Aubakirov in 1991 on the board of MIR orbital station, and by me in 1994, 1998 and 2001 on the orbital complexes MIR and the ISS. The program, completed by Aimbetov, consisted of 4 sections: natural resources and geophysical monitoring, physical and technical research, aerospace biomedicine and space biotechnology, popularization of achievements of manned space flight, split into 10 projects. The program included: preflight research, space experiments at the ISS, post-flight analysis of the results and their use for the development of space industry in Kazakhstan and World astronautics.
As part of the section "Natural resource and geophysical monitoring", there has been made studies of the bottom of the former Aral Sea, salinity area of continental territory and assessment of the impact of the negative effect to the environment of surrounding states and population health, oil spills in the fields of the continental area of Caspian basin, pipelines, sulfur piles, oil flares, glaciers shape of Kazakhstan, to find out the effects of warming of regional climate. As per the section "Physical and technical research", there have been obtained the Coulomb crystals in microgravity, their properties will be further surveyed. Within the section "Space biomedicine and space biotechnology," the astronauts conducted neuropsychological testing and evaluation of the level of absorption of gamma rays by the body of astronauts before and after flight for identifying changes related to the factors of space flight. Studies made for psychophysiological state of astronauts during the flight and crew members’ interaction between each other, by ground services, taking into account the mentality of the multinational composition of the crew, remained in the enclosed space, the effects of weightlessness and other factors of space and flight. In addition, as part of the section "Popularization of the achievements of manned space flight", there have been completed the projects related to the popularization of the achievements of the World and National manned spaceflight. In other words, during the flight of the Kazakhstan astronaut, all outlined space experiments have been completed.
- Aydin Aimbetov - the third Kazakh astronaut who has been in space. When can we expect new heroes?
- There is no doubt, in the long term Kazkosmos will develop manned space program, perhaps we will prepare the fourth and subsequent astronauts as well. However, we do not have the financial ability or the necessity to prepare astronauts just for records in numbers, therefore, the continued development of manned space exploration will depend on implementation of our scientific space programs in the future.
- And how is the space tourism developing in Kazakhstan these days?
- Space tourism today is really quite relevant. The main requirements of becoming a member of such large-scale projects are: high physical, mental and moral evidence, and most importantly, sufficient financial resources to carry out the space flight, it's an expensive trend in the World tourism. If there is a volunteer among the people of Kazakhstan, suitable for all listed options, including the possibility of financing from its own flight or sponsorship funds, then that individual will duly be trained and can fly to the ISS as a space tourist.
- One more question, the answer to which should bring greater clarity. Your opinion on the story of heptyl by "Proton-M"?
- Emergency launch of "Proton-M" on July 2, 2013 really triggered a negative public response. At the moment, there is no reason for a concern. All the results of the research show that there is no real threat to people and the environment. Numerous studies in the city of Baikonur, and Toretam and Akai settlements have shown lack of heptyl and its derivatives. As a result of long-term observation of the state of health of the population in the adjacent areas to the sites of earlier crashes, concluded that the main factor affecting the health of the population is a psycho-emotional stress. I should add that there has been developed the design and implemented joint program of eliminating the consequences of the impact of adverse factors related to emergency launch of Proton-M. The main objective of this program is to evaluate the impact of the accident on the environment and human health.
- Thank you for the interesting conversation and detailed information!