New satellites can be built under Kazakhstan’s leadership – Lionel Champeaud
NUR-SULTAN. KAZINFORM – A delegation of France’s Airbus Defence and Space (AD&S) that has been Kazakhstan’s strategic partner in space industry for the past 10 years is expected to partake in the international forum The Space Days in Kazakhstan on November 12-13. On the eve of the forum Kazinform correspondent sat down with Lionel Champeaud, Vice President Central Europe, Russia, Central Asia, Baltics, Caucasus, Airbus Defence Space, to talk about Airbus-Kazakhstan cooperation.
Mr. Champeaud, how do you see the cooperation with Kazakhstan in the past 10 years?
Airbus is well known for its commercial aircraft and we are proud Air Astana has been developing its fleet with Airbus since 2006. Nevertheless, it is true cooperation with Kazakhstan received a boost in 2009, when Airbus was selected for helicopter and satellite projects. Those projects were followed by a program launched in 2011 to replace aging military-transport aircraft fleet with modern C295. At the same time, Airbus remains also a customer of Kazakhstan as we buy significant volume of titanium. Thus, our cooperation has been rather fruitful for the last 10 years.
What is the major outcome of this collaboration in the field of space technologies?
As a strategic partner to Kazakhstan, Airbus is committed to supporting the development of local aerospace industry through space expertise, research and technology projects and initiatives.
Together with Kazakhstan Gharysh Sapary (KGS) and Kazcosmos, Airbus created a joint venture Ghalam in Nur-Sultan in 2010.
Over 60 Kazakh engineers have received training in Airbus facilities in Europe acquiring a deep knowledge in satellite system design and integration. Thanks to these newly acquired capabilities, Kazakhstani engineers are now able to design and manufacture Earth Observation satellites.
By the way, the first satellite produced by Ghalam, Scientific and technological satellite (STSat) was launched early 2019 and is flying flawlessly in orbit.
The state-of-the-art infrastructure for Satellite components manufacturing has been built in Nur-Sultan.
Ghalam has already been selected to manufacture thermal protection for the One Web constellation and for Airbus Telecommunication satellites.
The first equipment - sun sensor – produced by Ghalam is now in orbit. The equipment is part of KazSTSat scientific satellite designed by joint team of Ghalam and SSTL.
As for Satellite Assembly, Integration and Test, 2 big satellites could be integrated / tested at the same time.
It is also important to note successful launch of KazEOSat-1 and KazEOSat-2 satellites in 2014. Images received from those satellites are widely used for the needs of agriculture, control of emergency situations and other GEO-applications.
What are the future perspectives?
Kazakhstan has today several satellites in orbit, for Telecomunication (KazSat 2, KazSat3) or for Earth Observation (KazEOSat 1 and 2). All these satellites were procured as a result of Kazakhstan’s international call for tender, and manufactured, integrated and tested outside of Kazakhstan, by major non-Kazakh Prime Contractors. Some of these satellites will soon need to be replaced by new satellites, and the new satellites could be built under Kazakhstan’s leadership (Ghalam being Prime Contractor) and with a significant contribution of Kazakhstani industry.
The production of Satellite Components is set to grow, to fulfil of above-mentioned Kazakh satellites, but also because Ghalam will be in a position to propose its qualified components to foreign satellite manufacturers, as Ghalam does today with Airbus or Oneweb, allowing Kazakhstan to export technological equipment outside of Kazakhstan.
Baikonur, how does Airbus sees its future?
Baikonur is the cradle of space exploration and, at Airbus, we pay our deep respect to the work done by the specialists since many years.
The French President Charles de Gaulle was the first Western leader to visit cosmodrome Baikonur in 1966. It shows that we have been working together since many years for the benefit of space exploration.
Airbus has been long using Baikonur to launch its satellites and Airbus was the first European company to create a joint venture «Starsem» in post-Soviet time (in 1995) to launch Soyuz rockets from Baikonur.
Nowadays it is rather difficult to predict the future of the launchers market. Newcomers are changing the rules and commercial competiveness is the main driver. Nevertheless, the space legacy must provide Kazakhstan with the development options, especially when it is part of the Kazakh State strategy and investments.
50 years anniversary of Airbus and 10 years anniversary of the Kazakhstan partnership. What are the lessons learnt?
The Aerospace industry has distinguishing features such as the use of innovative technologies and longer terms for both project development and return on investments.
Main customers of space-related products and services are still Governments, investing in a wide range of activities due to the value of space for strategic, economic goals and national prestige.
That is why private players like Airbus need the government leaders to provide with a longer-term strategy and a vision to grow together, and commit fewer mistakes in the future. Airbus looks into the future to work hand in hand with Kazakhstan to grow into the next level of the space age.