Built by EADS Astrium (now Airbus Defence and Space) in collaboration with Algerian engineers, AlSat-2A was launched into orbit on 12 July 2010 onboard the Indian launcher PSLV C-15 from the Sriharikota site in Chennai, south-east of India.
In a recent press release, the Algerian Space Agency confirmed that the satellite continues to outperform its original nominal lifespan of five years and is currently in its tenth year of active mission in orbit.
“During its ten years in orbit, ALSAT-2A has made more than 53530 orbits around the earth, which corresponds to more than 2 billion 300 hundred million kilometres,” the press release reads in part.
“The satellite provided more than 244,000 Panchromatic and Multispectral scenes, nearly half of which were intended to respond as a priority to national concerns related to sustainable national development in Algeria and across Africa. The scenes represent a covered area of approximately 20 million km²”
Coverage of Algerian territory represents 50.2% of all the images AlSat-2A acquired and 70% over Africa.
ASAL attributes the success of the AlSat-2A space system to the “robustness and performance of its subsystems on the one hand and the optimal management of the satellite by Algerian engineers operating the ground stations, on the other hand.” Algerian engineers have been managing the satellite since 2010.
The second AlSat-2 Earth observation, AlSat-2B, was later launched on 26 September 2016 from the Sriharikota launch site in India. AlSat-2B was assembled, integrated, and tested by Algerian engineers at the Satellite Development Centre in Oran.
After the launch of AlSat-2B, ASAL commenced a satellite tilt correction campaign to keep the satellite shooting time around 9:30 a.m. ASAL says the manoeuvre revealed that the amount of propellant remaining is sufficient to ensure the continuation of the mission of the Alsat-2A satellite and its desorbitation at the end of its life.
Joseph Ibeh is a Mandela Washington Fellow and Senior Analyst at Space in Africa. His experience spans industry research and market analysis with a focus on African-grown NewSpace companies, commercial space industry, national space programmes and real-life application of space science for sustainable development in Africa.