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Azerbaijan Buys First Communication Satellite, Sets 2012 Launch

Azerbaijan, the third-largest oil producer in the former Soviet Union, agreed to buy the country’s first communications satellite with U.S. funding and plans to launch it next year.

AzerSat is being developed by Dulles, Virgina-based Orbital Sciences Corp. and will cost $120 million, Deputy Information Technology Minister Elmir Valizada said in an interview in Baku. A loan from the U.S. Export-Import bank will cover 85 percent of the total.

Arianespace, the world’s biggest launcher of commercial satellites, agreed to lift AzerSat into orbit next year, Valizada said. If all goes well, Azerbaijan will buy a second satellite within two years of the first launch, he said.

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