Belarus joined the club of space nations on July 22 when its BKA satellite was lifted into orbit by a Russian rocket.
The Soyuz-FG rocket blasted off from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur spaceport at 9:41 a.m. Belarusian time, launching a total of five craft into orbit. Apart from BKA, it also had a Canadian, a German and two Russian satellites aboard.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka did not attend the launch despite earlier reports that he might travel to Kazakhstan for the event.
BKA is a 400-kilogram Russian-made Earth-imaging satellite that will be used for monitoring weather phenomena and the environment, updating maps and performing security-related tasks.
Russian designers have described BKA as a state-of-the-art satellite that is as good as foreign-made equipment.
The satellite mission control center is located at the United Institute of Informatics Problems of the National Academy of Sciences. A control and tracking station has been built in the town of Pleshchanitsy some 70 kilometers north of Minsk.
Belarus’ first space satellite, BelKA (Belarusian Spacecraft), was destroyed after Russia’s RS-20 Dnepr rocket carrying it and 16 other satellites crashed back to Earth slightly more than a minute after the take-off in July 2006. // BelaPAN