Decorated Kazakh Cosmonaut Discusses Country’s Space Activity

Vice President of Kazakhstan Gharysh Sapary and cosmonaut and Major-General of the country’s Air Force Aydin Aimbetov recently spoke about the value of satellite imagery and remote-sensing services, the cost of astronautics for the nation and his future as a highly recognized astronaut.

“These (satellite) images give the opportunity for prompt decision-making; at the same time the situation of floods should be evaluated jointly with other state bodies, i.e. akimats [regional, city and district authorities], the Committee on Emergency Situations of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Kazhydromet [the state’s hydrometeorological service] and so on. In order to monitor the emergencies and prevent them, one must take into account not only the thickness of the snow cover and the rate of its melting, but also the state of the earth – whether it is frozen or not, whether it absorbs water or not. Of course, this also depends on the peculiarity of the terrain. The space images help to determine all of these factors,” said Aimbetov.

Satellite imagery, he said, can also help in law enforcement, agricultural and natural resources extraction regulation.

The Kazakh cosmonaut also talked about the future and cost of Kazakh space technology as the country continues to develop.

“There is no point in competing with NASA. … When heads of state were at EXPO 2017, they tried to learn about our space activity. When visiting the National Space Centre, presidents noted that Kazakhstan’s space activity is developing very rapidly. We have the National Space Centre and we are building an assembly and testing facility where satellites will be assembled and space science will be developed,” he said. “Now we focus all the resources of our satellites on solving issues of national economy and state security.”

He also noted that astronautics is expensive and something many large companies struggle to accomplish.

“Even the whole of Europe has united to create the European Space Agency. If you compare the budgets of Kazakhstan and NASA, they differ not in factors of ten, factors of hundreds,” he said, adding that Kazakhstan often uses existing resources around the world to establish its programme rather than unnecessarily spending to create their own.

The decorated cosmonaut recently turned 45 years old but says that age is just a number and doesn’t reflect one’s skills or abilities and that he hopes to participate in future flights.

“Every person feels a certain age; someone can say that he feels bad at 30 and will not set a goal. I know famous people who felt great and active at the age of 90 and worked in many breakthrough projects. I, myself, hope that I will take part in the next space flight; I am only 45 years old! Several astronauts proved that it is possible to fly at 60. Among them is Russian astronaut Gennady Padalka, with whom I landed – he was 59 years old when we were landing, and he was ready to continue to fly. Therefore, I still have 15 years ahead, maybe I can participate in two or three more flights, and the most important thing is the development of the country’s space industry.”