By Sana Elouazi
By Sana Elouazi
Rabat – Morocco’s first Earth observation satellite, named “Mohammed VI-A,” will launch from the Vega Launch Complex in Kourou, French Guyana on Wednesday, November 8 at 1:42 a.m. Moroccan time, announced French space-launch systems company Arianespace.
According to the agency, the countdown has started and the launcher of Morocco’s first reconnaissance satellite is ready for takeoff.
In 2013, Morocco signed a EUR 500 million agreement with France for the purchase and launch of two French-built satellites made by the French Airbus Defense & Space and the Franco-Italian Thales Alenia Space.
The first satellite, weighing 1,110 kilograms, will be launched Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. The second is due to be launched in 2018.
“The launch, from takeoff to separation from the satellite, will last a little over 55 minutes,” said the company.
For Morocco, the launch of the satellite is a significant event, making Morocco the third African country with a reconnaissance satellite after Egypt and South Africa.
The Moroccan satellite will be dedicated to Earth observation and will be able to map and take high-resolution images in any weather, night and day.
According to the company, the images collected by the satellite will help Morocco polish its green policies, in line with kingdom’s repeated affirmations that is committed to environmental protection.
The Mohammed VI-A satellite’s official mission is to help with “mapping and land surveying activities, regional development, agricultural monitoring, the prevention and management of natural disasters, monitoring changes in the environment and desertification, as well as border and coastal surveillance,” said an official statement.
The spacecraft will also help in “land management, through effective control of housing and buildings, as well as tighter monitoring of slum eradication.”
The Moroccan Ministry of Defense will be in charge of controlling the device in a base near Salé’s airport.
This satellite has been a major topic in the media Morocco as well as that of neighboring countries like Spain and Algeria, who reported that the device will be used for surveillance of Moroccan territory and to fight against the proliferation of terrorism and smuggling cells in the region.
The Spanish newspaper El Pais claimed that Morocco was gaining an advantage not only over its greatest enemy, Algeria, and its ally the Polisario Front, but also over Spain despite the “friendly relations” between the two.
The satellite system, which is under the control of the Royal Center for Remote Sensing Space (CRTS), will allow Morocco to receive “detailed information on military installations and troop movements” in both Spain and Algeria, as well as in the Tindouf Camps where the Polisario Front is located.
Arianespace has posted a video showing what the launch will look like.