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SPACE FLIGHT 2007 - The Year in Review

Other Countries Space Activities

The former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan, an independent state since its declaration of sovereignty in 1990, is aspiring to join the select group of space-faring nations.  Home of Baikonur, the world’s largest rocket launching site, Kazakhstan has been in lengthy political negotiations with Russia, the real owner and operator of Baikonur who has leased the 6717 sq.km of the Cosmodrome from Kazakhstan.  Baikonur comprises nine launch complexes with 15 launch pads, 11 assembly & test complexes, 34 technical centers, tanking stations, two airports, a factory for technical gases, two power trains with diesel aggregates for generating electricity, a 600 megawatt heating facility, 470 km of railroad tracks and 1281 km of roadways.  There are also several settlements, the largest being the city of Baikonur with 70,000 inhabitants.  Today, Kazakhstan is making plans to use these facilities for two satellite launcher projects of its own,- the solid-propellant rocket Ischim, launched from a MiG-31I fighter plane, similar to the US Pegasus, and the carrier rocket Baiterek, a modified version of the new Russian heavy lifter Angara-A5 which is to take the place of today’s Proton (first flight probably not before 2011).  Project Baiterek is owned by the Russian space firm Khrunichev, manufacturer of Proton, and a special Committee of the Kazakh Ministry of Finance, each one at 50%.  The Director General of Baiterek is veteran Kazakh cosmonaut Talgat Mussabayev, twice crewmember on the Soviet space station Mir (1994, 1998), and once on the ISS (2001).  Kazakhstan’s National Air and Space Agency KazCosmos is headed by Toktar Aubakirov, the second Kazakh cosmonaut (1991, Soyuz TM-13).  Kazakhstan’s first satellite, the 850-kg comsat KazSat 1, was launched in 2006 on a Proton-K in the presence of Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nasarbayev and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.  There were no launches in 2007.

In Latin America, Brazil has the most advanced space program, with capabilities in launch vehicles, launch sites, and satellite manufacturing, although little funding.  An agreement in 2004 with Russia concerned the expansion of cooperative efforts in space, including the joint development and production of launch vehicles, the launch of geostationary satellites and the joint development and utilization of Brazil's Alcântara Launching Center (Centro de Lançamento de Alcântara, CLA) in Maranhão.  There were no launches in 2007.

Israel is conducting modest space operations, with one launch of its Shavit rocket in 2007, carrying the Ofeq-7 advanced technology remote sensing satellite on June 11 from its Shavne launch site at Palmachin AFB (also known as Yavne).

In Canada, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) continued supporting work on its contribution to the ISS partnership, the Mobile Service System (MSS), consisting of the 3960 lbs (1800 kg) Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) Canadarm2, the Mobile Base System (MBS), and the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM) “Dextre”.  The latter will be delivered to the ISS in 2008 (March).  Canada also has an active Canadian Astronaut Program for flights to the ISS.  One of them, Dave Williams, flew to the ISS on STS-118/Endeavour in August 2007 as a Mission Specialist.

In 2007, RadarSat-2, Canada’s second "eye-in-the-sky", was successfully launched for CSA on December 14 by Starsem on a Soyuz-FG from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.  It has a SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) with multiple polarization modes and a highest resolution of 3 m with 100 m positional accuracy.  RadarSat-2 is a follow-on to RadarSat-1.  Having the same orbit (798 km altitude sun-synchronous with 6 p.m. ascending node & 6 a.m. descending node), it is separated by half an orbit period (~50 min) from RadarSat-1 (in terms of ground track, that represents ~12 days ground track separation).  It is intended to fill a wide variety of roles, including sea ice mapping and ship routing, iceberg detection, agricultural crop monitoring, marine surveillance for ship and pollution detection, terrestrial defence surveillance and target identification, geological mapping, land use mapping, wetlands mapping, topographic mapping.  RadarSat-1 meanwhile celebrated its twelfth anniversary in orbit.  Launched on November 4, 1995, the sophisticated radar platform was expected to operate only five years, and the quality of images it captured exceeded the standards of the time.  It is still operating and surpassing the standards.