“The second one will also be a satellite designed to take pictures,” Khachatrian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “I can’t give any dates [for its launch,] but [it should happen] circa 2023 or 2024.”
The Armenian government announced the launch of the first-ever Armenian satellite in late May. The apparently small device named ArmSat-1 was carried into space by a SpaceX rocket that blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said it will be used for a wide range of purposes, including border control, natural disaster management and geology.
The government is understood is to have purchased ArmSat-1 from Satlantis, a Spanish company that specializes in the production of small satellites and cameras for them. It has still not revealed financial terms of the deal or technical parameters of the satellite, fuelling skepticism among its critics about the significance of the project.
Khachatrian reaffirmed government plans to open a satellite operations center in Armenia before the end of this year. The government has already commissioned equipment for the center and started preparations for training its personnel, added the minister.
Armenia’s arch-foe Azerbaijan launched its first communication and observation satellite into space in 2013. The Azerbaijani army reportedly used satellite images for its offensive military operations carried out during the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Khachatrian said that his government is also discussing with Satlantis and other firms the possibility of manufacturing observation satellites in Armenia.
“We are negotiating with various companies to see what capacities exist in Armenia and how they can be used properly,” he said. “Such capacities did exist in Armenia in Soviet times and they have been partly preserved. We have good ideas and specialists here whose skills could be put to good use.”