Very little is known about Morocco’s recently launched satellite, Mohammed VI – A. The object was developed in complete secrecy and very little details of the spacecraft or the process of its development have been made public.
Mohammed VI – A is Morocco’s second satellite in orbit. The first is Maroc-TUBSat, an earth observation satellite which was jointly designed by Morocco’s Royal Centre for Remote Sensing and Germany’s Technical University of Berlin. The satellite was launched in 2001 using Russia’s Zenit-1 rocket.
Mohammed VI – A was built in Toulouse (France) by two European aerospace contractors who are normally competitors: Thales, supplied the satellites’ optical imaging equipment; and Airbus, constructed the spacecraft platforms.
Mohammed VI – A is the first of two Moroccan high-resolution earth observation spacecraft that are expected to launch over the next two years. The second satellite, Mohammed VI – B, is scheduled for launch in 2018.
Mohamed VI – A is designed to be used for civilian and military uses. Its particular uses include mapping and land surveying, regional development monitoring, the prevention and management of natural disasters, monitoring changes in the environment and desertification, as well as border and coastal surveillance.
Mohamed VI – A is capable of taking up to 500 images daily including in infrared and send them to ground stations every six hours.
The entire project, including the two satellites, launch services, and ground support, reportedly cost Moroccan taxpayers a whopping €500 million. Let’s hope it is put to good use!
Mohammed VI – A has a lifespan of 5 years. After that, the satellite is expected to die, fall out of orbit and burn up in the atmosphere.
Mohammed VI – A was deployed using Europe’s Vega rocket. The second satellite, Mohammed VI – B, is scheduled for launch next year aboard another Vega rocket. However, Mohammed VI – B might also be delivered onboard the Russian Soyuz should Vega be unavailable.
Both Mohamed VI – A and B are considered “reconnaissance” or spy satellites. Their production for Morocco had to meet a multitude of European and international rules and regulations, as well as rules and regulation imposed by the United States’ International Traffic in Arms Regulations, ITAR.