Armenia is pressing ahead with plans to launch its first commercial satellite and hopes to attract private investment in the project worth an estimated $250 million, a senior government official said on Friday.
Gagik Grigorian, the chief of staff at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, said the Armenian government has already set up a company for that purpose. The company called Armcosmos is now in the process of registering its rights to a space orbit reserved for Armenia, he said.
“We now need to inform the International Telecommunication Union that we are going to produce our own satellite and broadcast to that area, namely the Republic of Armenia, and at the same time coordinate with existing satellites to avoid any interference,” Grigorian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
The official estimated the total cost of the satellite project at around $250 million, a very large sum by Armenian standards. He said the Armenian government hopes to attract much of the funding from private investors.
The government first announced plans to launch an Armenian satellite when senior officials from Russia’s Federal Space Agency, also known as Roscosmos, visited Yerevan and met with Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian in April 2012. A government statement said that the two sides expressed readiness “to take necessary measures to put that project into practice.”
“As a first step to be taken in that direction, they noted the need to start the process of registration with the International Telecommunication Union,” added the statement.
It is not clear if Yerevan’s plans are somehow connected with a similar space program already implemented by Armenia’s arch-foe Azerbaijan. The latter launched its first communications satellite in February. The Azerspace/Africasat-1a satellite designed and built by a U.S. company was carried into orbit by an Arianespace spacecraft from French Guiana.