Arianespace issued a press release stating that Morocco is set to launch its second high-resolution Earth observation satellite in November 20 and that “Flight VV13 marks the ninth Earth observation mission for Vega, a versatile light launcher.
Flight VV13 will be performed from the Vega Launch Complex (SLV) in Kourou, French Guiana (South America).
The Launch Readiness Review (LRR) will take place on Monday, November 19, 2018 in Kourou to authorize the start of operations for the final countdown.
The MOHAMMED VI – B satellite is an Earth observation satellite built for the Kingdom of Morocco by Thales Alenia Space as system prime contractor and Airbus as co-prime.
It will be the second satellite of the MOHAMMED VI – A & B program, with the MOHAMMED VI – A satellite launched by Arianespace on November 7, 2017, also utilizing a Vega vehicle.
The MOHAMMED VI – B satellite will be mostly used for mapping and land surveying activities, regional development, agricultural monitoring, the prevention and management of natural disasters, monitoring changes in the environment and desertification, as well as border and coastal surveillance. Being complementary, the MOHAMMED VI – A & B satellites will jointly enable a faster coverage of zones of interests.” says Arianespace announcement.
So Morocco is set to launch its second ultra sophisticated observation satellite in November 20 from the Kourou Space Center in French Guiana and the new satellite will be dubbed Mohammed VI B. According to press reports, the new satellite has a panchromatic resolution of 50 cm, and is capable of taking more than 500 images a day and updating its data every six hours.
The new satellite, like the previous one, will have civilian uses : urban planning, agricultural monitoring, preventing and managing natural disasters, as well as monitoring changes in the environment and desertification.
It is wort noting that the launch of the Mohammed VI-B should take place a year after the first Moroccan Earth observation satellite, Mohammed VI-A, was successfully launched also by Arianespace.
The project, according to local press reports, is part of an agreement between France and Morocco signed in 2013 during the visit of former French President Francois Hollande to Morocco.
Therefore, Morocco is the first African country to deploy two earth observation satellites into a sun-synchronous orbit. Undoubtedly the space imagery provided by the two satellites will be of key importance in the implementation of national strategies for socio-economic development, especially those relating to the agricultural sector, which is considered as one of the main pillars of the Moroccan economy. They will also improve the management of water resources, prospect underground water, improve cartography and topography, and support the control of littoral zones, infrastructure and transport networks.