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Venezuelan Minister of Science and Technology Manuel Fernandez announced at an official transfer ceremony in El Sombrero that 54 Venezuelan professionals will be in charge of operating his country’s second satellite, VRSS-1.
It was launched into orbit from China last September at a cost of $140 million.
“We’re seeing history…Venezuela has been with China at the forefront of history,” former President Hugo Chavez had said at the launch of the country’s second satellite.
The spacecraft takes photographs that the Venezuelan government says will help it protect the environment, improve urban planning and crack down on illegal mining and drug cultivation.
It allows authorities to take complete inventory of Venezuelan territory, with precise information on strategic sites, including security and defence sites, mining and oil infrastructure.
The satellite has completed 4,350 orbits around the earth and 900 turns around the country, and fulfilled 731 satellite missions.
It captured 19,493 images with its four panchromatic cameras and 3,249 images with its multispectral camera, said the minister.
In 2008 China launched Venezuela’s first satellite – the Venesat-1, or “Simon Bolivar” – to carry communications gear, at a cost of $180 million.
Both satellites were named after 19th-century South American independence heroes.
Victor Cano, President of Venezuela’s space agency the Bolivarian Agency for Space Activities, was quoted by Satellite Today as saying that, “Thanks to China, in less than 10 years, Venezuela has two satellites in orbit controlled, monitored and used by Venezuelans – something that not many countries in the world can say”.
China’s space industry has been growing steadily and the country is planning to build its first fully-manned Chinese space station, Tiangong, by 2020.
After the United States and Russia, China is one of the only three countries to have independently sent humans into space.
China’s longest manned space mission came to an end in June and the country is planning to build a permanent manned space station by 2020.
The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies