Algeria is on track to launch its second satellite system, Alsat-2, in late 2008, revealed a top space official this week (30 October).
The director-general of Algeria's space agency ASAL, Azzedine Oussedik, was speaking at an international workshop, 'Weather change and the role of space technologies', held in Algiers.
Alsat-2 will collect high-quality images for mapping, forestry, managing agricultural resources and natural disasters, locating minerals and oil for mining, and monitoring locust swarms.
The Alsat-2 programme includes setting up a base in Arzew, western Algeria, where the images will be analysed and from which the satellites can be controlled.
Oussedik told SciDev.Net, "The project is progressing normally."
The Alsat-2 system consists of two satellites, Alsat-2A and Alsat-2B.
Thirty Algerian researchers were trained in Toulouse, France, last year and will be helped by a French team to launch the Alsat-2A satellite in late 2008, says Oussedik. They will send the Alsat-2B satellite into orbit in 2009 without further French assistance.
Oussedik says the total cost of the project could reach US$16–17 million.
Algeria's first satellite, Alsat-1, was launched five years ago for monitoring disasters.
Alsat-2 is part of the Algerian space programme for 2006–20, which has been allocated a budget of about US$1.3 billion.
The programme aims ″to master and develop technology and human resources and put space science at the service of sustainable development″.
Once the launch of Alsat-2 is complete, there are plans for a communications satellite that will allow the country to be independent of international telecommunication services. Ten satellites are planned in total under the present programme.