Thursday, January 4, 2007

Vietnam starts building first satellite control station

State-owned Vietnam Post and Telecom Group, which has commissioned the country’s first satellite, began building Thursday a satellite control station in the northern Ha Tay province.

To cost VND12 billion (US$746,260), it will be the first of two stations, the other being a backup to be built in Binh Duong province in the far south.

VNPT expects to finish construction by July or August and prepare for the launch of Vinasat in the second half of 2008.

The satellite project is expected to cost $243.6 million. Two Vietnamese state-owned banks will loan $146.2 million with VNPT making up the rest.

VINASAT will be produced by Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems in the US, and is to be launched by an Ariane 5 from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.

The satellite will have an expected life span of 15 to 20 years and will help transmit television, radio, and civil aviation signals.

Its footprint will stretch across the entire country, into Southeast Asia, and parts of China, Korea, and Japan.

Vietnam now uses satellite services provided by companies in Thailand, Indonesia, and Russia. Vinasat is Vietnam's second space project after it sent an astronaut on a Soviet space mission in 1985.

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