The Director General of the Algerian Space Agency, Azzedine Oussedik, has disclosed that Algeria’s AlSat-3 Earth observation satellite is currently in the definition phase and that plans are ongoing to launch a second communications satellite named AlComSat-2 to provide telecommunications services to North African countries.
Azzedine Oussedik disclosed the information in an interview granted to El Djeich magazine of Algeria’s Ministry of National Defense published in its December 2019 issue, an article entitled the “National Space Program 2020-2040 – Strengthening of National Sovereignty.”
“A project to build a very high-resolution satellite (Alsat-3) is currently in its definition phase,” Oussedik said, recounting that after the successful launch of six satellites, Algeria has the ambition to realize the launch of AlSat-3 and AlComSat-2.
In November 2006, the Algerian government adopted a 15-year National Space Programme (PSN 2006 -2020) which rolled out plans to launch several EO satellites under the AlSat series (AlSat-2A, AlSat-2B, AlSat-3, and AlSat-4) and communications satellite (AlComSat-1 & 2) to grow the country’s indigenous capability in the development of satellite subsystems and payloads.
The PSN serves as an instrument of reference in terms of space policy, and a blueprint for the growth of the space sector in Algeria. The growth blueprint helped the North African country to set up space infrastructures including satellite assembly, integration and test (AIT) facilities and ground stations, space systems, and increased the country’s number of specialized space engineers and scientists to 1,200.
Algeria has since adoption of the PSN launched five satellites with the launch of AlSat-2A in 2010, AlSat-2B, AlSat-1B and AlSat-1N in 2014 and AlcomSat-1 in 2017.
While AlSat-3 and AlComSat-2 launch may not be realized in the 2020 horizon which will end this year, the Algerian government has also rolled out the 2040 horizon spanning 20 years. The 2040 Horizon, which is a continuity of the previous plans, builds on consolidating Algeria’s Earth observation satellite systems and expanding the country’s capacity in satellite communications systems.
AlSat-3 is part of Algeria’s commitment to the African Resource Management Constellation (ARMC), joint space cooperation between Algeria, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa whereby each nation pledged to contribute to a constellation of identical EO satellites to provide data for disaster monitoring across Africa.
Oussedik believes the 2020 Horizon exceeded its set primary objective after five years which is to triple the country’s number of technical staff in the space sector. Algeria currently boasts of over 1,200 technical professionals in different segments of space specialities, which far exceeds the set target.
Oussedik did not disclose more details about the expected development and launch timeline for the AlSat-3 and AlComSat-2 as well as Algeria’s partners on the project.
Algeria’s previous satellite projects have involved partnerships with UK-based Surrey Satellite Technology, UK Space Agency and the defunct EADS Astrium (now Airbus Defence and Space) for the EO satellites with three of the five EO satellites assembled, integrated and tested by Algerian engineers at the country’s Satellite Development Centre in Oran. For AlComSat-1, the Algerian Space Agency partnered with the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), the prime contractor for the satellite.
**Update: The article erroneously mentioned Fethi Benhamouda as the Director General of ASAL.
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.