As known, on October 25th, Baku city obtained the right to host the International Astronautical Congress to be held in 2022 in the elections that took place at the General Assembly of the International Astronautical Federation in Washington D.C. Baku claimed victory over quite serious rivals. Thus, Singapore, Rio de Janeiro and New Delhi were among the candidates for hosting this remarkable event.
The Azerbaijani capital's victory over the rivals who have asserted themselves in the fields of economy, infrastructure and technology, is undoubtedly not accidental. We will talk about it a bit later. Now, let us take a look at the history of Azerbaijan’s experience in the field of space and some other aspects.
October 7th, 1973
The International Astronautical Congress in the Soviet Union was held just once – in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku. The event was held in Baku from October 7th to 13th, 1973, under the theme of “The Impact of Space Research on Science and Technology” at the initiative of Azerbaijan’s national leader Heydar Aliyev. Over 1, 500 representatives and astronauts from 17 countries of the world took part in the event. President of the International Astronautical Federation Luigi Gerardo Napolitano, President of the International Astronautical Academy Charles Stark Draper, U.S. astronaut Thomas Stafford, two-time heros of the Soviet Union, cosmonauts Vladimir Shatalov, Vitaly Sevastyanov, Georgy Beregovoy and many prominent figures of that time participated in the Congress; statements on the international significance of the space science were made.
This congress that took place in Baku laid the foundation of Azerbaijan’s space history. Thus, in August of 1974, the “Kaspi” Educational Centre on the research of natural resources by using cosmic technological tools was established. In December of the same year, the “Cosmic Device Special Constructor Bureau” started operating under Azerbaijan's National Academy of Sciences and gave an impetus to thorough space research. The devices created by approximately 3, 000 Azerbaijani scientists and engineers during the following years served the Soviet Space Program and were used for “Salute 7” and “Union T-11” orbital complexes.
The second stage and Azerbaijani satellite in space!
At the stage when Azerbaijan began to grow the economic power of its independence, the country started paying attention to the space field once again in the 2000s.
Becoming a satellite state was a target for Azerbaijan, and long-term preparations were carried out to achieve this objective properly. On November 4th, 2008, President Ilham Aliyev signed an order on the creation of the cosmic industry in Azerbaijan Republic and launching telecommunication satellites into orbit. It meant the start of the second and a more quality stage in the field of space industry.
To launch a satellite into orbit, manage and exploit it, “Azerkosmos” OJSC was established in 2010.
Eventually, in 2013, the “Azerspace-1” telecommunication satellite was launched into orbit. Shortly after, Azerbaijan’s second satellite was also launched to outer space. In 2014, the “AzerSky” low-Earth-orbit satellite was commissioned. In 2018, the “Azerspace-2” telecommunication satellite was launched into orbit.
Why did the country need it?
As we have already mentioned, the development of the space industry and Azerbaijan’s access to outer space had a strategic importance from many aspects.
Firstly, from the information security point of view, it was the beginning of a new stage. Along with getting rid of the dependence from its foreign partners in the field of telecommunications, Azerbaijan has become an exporter rendering services in this field.
Secondly, overall, Azerbaijan strengthens its positions as an exporter in the field of technology and gains profit. It should be mentioned that so far, Azerbaijan has gained the benefit in the amount of $165 mln from its 3 satellites. Today, “Azerkosmos” is number 1 exporter on Azerbaijan’s service market, and it gains 95 percent of its revenues on foreign markets. In January-September of 2019, “Azerkosmos” OJSC has gained the revenues in the amount of $30.2 mln from the commercial exploitation of satellites. It is 81 percent more than the indicator of the relevant period of 2018. It means that the profit Azerbaijan gets from this field increases year-on-year.
Thirdly, the “AzerSky” low-Earth-orbit satellite gives an opportunity to observe events happening not only in Azerbaijan and in the region, but also in any corner of the world.
Fourthly, the development of this field helps improve agriculture, control over the ecological state, proper usage of lands and thus, stimulates the economic growth.
Why exactly Baku?
The International Astronautical Federation comprises of 398 organizations from 68 countries. The International Astronautical Congress, that has been held in various countries since 1950, is the organization’s main event. This congress is a global platform bringing together overall more than 6, 000 representatives of the world space community, including heads of think tanks, leading agencies, science and international organizations, as well as famous scientists, highly qualified specialists from the private sector, young researchers and students. During the congress, participants have a chance to observe the latest trends in the field of space and innovations, as well as discuss and find solutions to new challenges, threats and problems.
As we have mentioned above, the decision made in the elections held at the General Assembly of the International Astronautical Federation in Washington D.C. is not accidental. First of all, Azerbaijan has experience in organizing international events at a high level. Our country has proven it by hosting the most remarkable events in the recent years and gained an international reputation. Secondly, Azerbaijan is an active member of the “Cosmic Club”, works intensively in this field and dynamically develops.
When President Ilham Aliyev received on October 29th chairman of “Azerkosmos” OJSC in connection with Baku being selected the host of the International Astronautical Congress, he clearly stated which criteria this decision was based on: “This victory is again important, because we had very strong rivals. Four cities made efforts to be able to host the Congress. Along with Baku, Singapore, Rio de Janeiro and Delhi cities. So, India and Brazil are not comparable to Azerbaijan both on experience and population. However, our victory at this competition clearly shows our reputation. The International Astronautical community has chosen Baku among those 4 cities. They trust us; our policy is strongly supported. The processes carried out in Azerbaijan are positively met on a global scale. The fact that during just this month, we have hosted both the Turkic Council, and the world’s second largest organization after the UN – the Non-Aligned Movement, is an obvious example of this. Along with Azerbaijan, 120 countries have unanimously elected Azerbaijan the chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, and this is indeed a historical achievement. Hosting the Astronautical Congress in 2022 is our next big victory. I consider this event a very significant political victory.”
Thus, Azerbaijan plays the role of a locomotive in this field in the region, and at the same time, is becoming an important center in the field of space technologies replying to the challenges of the innovative world adequately. This is also an achievement in fulfilling the priorities defined in the field of the development of the non-oil sector.