Sputnik for Armenia: Yerevan to buy Russian-made commercial telecom satellite

Armenia is planning to order a commercial communications satellite from Russia under the terms of a memorandum of understanding signed on Monday during the Farnborough air show.

“We have already signed a memorandum to create a communications satellite for Armenia,” said Vladimir Popovkin, director of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, at a press conference, according to Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

The official said the satellite – to become Armenia’s first – is expected to carry 15 transponders. He did not, however, disclose the value of the deal or the timeline for the satellite’s construction and launch.

The satellite is to be made by Russian satellite maker Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems, Popovkin said.

Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan discussed the satellite project with officials from the Russian Central Research Institute of Machine Building back in April.

Incidentally, last year the U.S. Export-Import Bank agreed to finance development of Azerbaijan’s first national telecommunications satellite, now slated for launch later this year atop an Ariane 5 ECA rocket.

Armenian groups in the U.S. voiced opposition to U.S. backing for the Azeri satellite, which they said could be used for military purposes. Azerbaijan and Armenia are locked in a protracted bitter conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh and in what is now seen as an intensifying arms race amid repeated failures to reach a negotiated peace in the internationally mediated process.