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Vietnam's 1st satellite launch significant in socioeconomic development
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15:41, April 19, 2008

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The success in launching Vietnam's first satellite by a French company is of significance in its socioeconomic development, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said on Saturday.

"The project of launching Vinasat-1 satellite is of great political and socioeconomic significance, expressing the national space sovereignty, contributing to improving Vietnam's image in the international arena," the prime minister said on the Central Vietnam Television just after the communication satellite was successfully launched by French company ArianeSpace in Kourou site in French Guiana on the northeast coast of South America at 5:16 a.m. (Vietnamese time) on Saturday.

Once being put into operation, Vinasat-1 will help improve Vietnam's information communications infrastructure, increasing the capacity and safety of the country's national telecommunications network, he said, adding that the satellite will be an important communications bridge linking Vietnam with the rest of the world, bringing the country's communications to a new height.

With the launch of the 2.6-ton Vinasat-1 produced by U.S. firm Lockheed Martin to its geostationary orbit position of 132 degrees East using rocket Ariane-5, Vietnam has become the sixth Southeast Asian nation putting satellites into orbit.

"We are very glad to see the launch of the Vinasat-1. Having the satellite, all information about storms, floods, as well as other weather changes will be easily disseminated to remote areas," said Le Thi Xuan Lan, a staff at Vietnam's Southern Hydrometeorology Station. "This will be a breakthrough in the country's information communications technology."

Seagoing vessels will rapidly receive information from the satellite, contributing to reducing natural disasters' losses, she noted.

Like Nguyen Thu Huong, a third-year student of the Hanoi Economics University, many local ordinary people expect better communications services, facilitating them in entertainment activities.

"I am very proud that my country has the first satellite. Through mass media, I know the satellite can help provide better telecommunications and TV services. I hope to enjoy more TV programs and services with good quality, like direct-to-home service," she said.

Ho Chi Minh City Television (HTV) has planned to rent 20 TV channels on the satellite with each channel's estimated annual rental fee of 60,000 U.S. dollars. The HTV will exploit 10 channels, and re-lease 10 others to Southeastern and Southwestern televisions, offering local people free TV programs on the 20 channels.

As many as 16 Vietnamese organizations and firms have so far registered to use Vinasat-1-based communication services at costs much lower than those provided by foreign satellites, Nguyen Ba Thuoc, vice president of the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT), the satellite project's investor, said at a recent press briefing.

Vinasat's major customers include the Vietnamese ministries of Defense, and Public Security, television stations, telecommunications firm Viettel, and petroleum companies.

Now, Vietnam has to spend some 15 million U.S. dollars annually renting satellites of such foreign countries as Russia, Australia and Thailand.

With 20 transponders, service coverage in South East Asia, part of China, India, Korea, Japan, Australia and Hawaii, and life-span of between 15 and over 20 years, Vinasat-1 has transmission capacity equivalent to 10,000 voice, Internet and data channels or120 TV channels, helping Vietnam to provide telecommunications, radio, Internet and TV services to all corners of the country regardless of topography and climate.

Besides serving commercial purposes slated for starting in June, the satellite will serve public utilities such as providing weather information and navigation guidelines to fishing ships and oil rigs, as well as remote healthcare and education services to islands and remote areas.

Total investment for the production and launch of Vinasat-1 and the construction of related facilities like two ground stations in northern Ha Tay province and southern Binh Duong province stands at nearly 300 million dollars. The VNPT will recoup the investment after nine or 10 years.

There are 280 communication satellites in the world, including 80 in Asia, said Bui Quoc Viet, director of the VNPT's Center of Posts and Telecommunications. Six Southeast Asian countries -- Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines -- have satellites.

Source: Xinhua

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