Morocco Launches First Spy Satellite With Eye on Surprising Target

The satellite will be used primarily for mapping activities, spatial planning, monitoring of agricultural activities and prevention and management of natural disasters

The Vega launcher lifting off from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on November 7, 2017 local time, carrying onboard the Mohammed VI satellite, an Earth observation satellite into orbit for the Kingdom of Morocco
AFP PHOTO / ARIANESPACE / Handout

Morocco has launched its first observation satellite, to be used for military activities, surveillance of its borders and coastline and monitoring desertification in the region.

The Mohammed VI-A satellite was launched Wednesday from Kourou, French Guiana, in the presence of prominent Moroccan figures. It will be piloted from an operating center near the capital, Rabat.

The launch service provider Arianespace says that it will be used for mapping activities, spatial planning, monitoring of agricultural activities, prevention and management of natural disasters and monitoring of environmental developments.

The satellite was built by Airbus Defense & Space and Thales Alenia Space. A second launch is planned for 2018. The projects cost has not been disclosed.

The launch has reportedly raised concern in rival neighbor Algeria, and in Spain.