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Spotlight Article

From Silk to Space

Azerbaijan America Alliance
October 14, 2014

President Ilham Aliyev has made the development of a robust ICT sector in Azerbaijan a priority. In 2008, during a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers, President Ilham Aliyev supported the development of a modern aerospace industry to support socio-economic development. 

In response, the Ministry applied for an orbital slot through the International Telecommunication Union.  In 2009, President Ilham Aliyev officially approved the state program on the establishment and development of a space industry in Azerbaijan.

By 2010, Azerbaijan had already come to an agreement with “Measat Satellite Systems,” a Malaysian satellite operator to lease GEO position at 46°E orbital slot to Azerbaijan.

In May of that same year, Azercosmos was founded. On February 8th, 2013 Azerspace-1 was launched to provide reliable communication services to government customers.  Azerspace-2 is planned for launch in 2017.

Launch of Azerspace-1 Credit: Azercosmos.az

ICT sector development in Azerbaijan is a sign of a rising and developing nation. Reaching space is a feat marked in the histories of every nation who has dared attempt to conquer it. Additionally, the development of a robust ICT sector promises impactful socio-economic development for the country.

However, Azerbaijan is not only following the example of other developed nations by looking to the stars. It is following its own historical trajectory as a bridge between east and west. From as early as the 5th century BC, Azerbaijan has connected east and west via the Silk Road, a network that passed through Europe and Asia exchanging valuable goods and providing an opportunity for cultural exchange.

Azerbaijan found itself at the center of this exchange; Baku harbor is one of the safest in the Caspian Sea allowing for swift trade by water. As a result of their geographical position, Azerbaijan developed eclectic and diverse religious, culinary, and cultural traditions. Azerbaijan is once again becoming an important gateway, but this time rather than by land or sea, the path will be an invisible connection in space.

Azerspace-1 is now an important pathway in space that connects more than 50 countries in Central Asia, Europe, Africa and Middle East. This important pathway, in the spirit of the Silk Road, was organized by a grand international cooperation. The slot where the satellite resides is Malaysian, but the privilege to construct and launch Azerspace-1 was awarded to the west: US-based “Orbital Sciences Corporation” constructed the satellite then it was passed to the French company “Arianespace” for launch.  

Azerbaijan has been responsibly guarding the gate between east and west since the 5th century BC. In that time Azerbaijan has graduated from allowing silk to pass through to transmitting valuable communications between nations. Despite the dramatically different goods now being exchanged, the value of Azerbaijan as a gateway between cultures remains constant. 

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