Bangabandhu-1 to be launched on May 5

DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN) - It is the first commercial satellite of Bangladesh.

Bangabandhu-1, the first commercial satellite of the country, will be sent into orbit on May 5 and it will be ready for use within two months of launch.

Through an email yesterday, SpaceX, the American company assigned to launch the satellite, said Bangabandhu-1 will be launched for its orbital slot on 119.1 degree east on May 4 evening US time. In Bangladesh time, it will be early morning of May 5, said Shahjahan Mahmood, chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). “It will take about eight days to reach its slot.”

After the launch, it will take about two months to tune the satellite in and monitor it in the orbit from its landing stations in Gazipur and Rangamati and then it will be available for the commercial use, said the BTRC chief. 

“After the successful tuning, we can use the connectivity and capacity of the Bangabandhu-1 for commercial purposes,” he added.

On March 31, French company Thales Alenia Space, designer and maker of Bangabandhu-1, took the satellite to Florida's Cape Canaveral for launching.

SpaceX has carried out several test runs and found its performance quite okay, Shahjahan added.

Thales manufactured the 3.7 tonnes satellite a few months ago and kept it in a warehouse in Cannes.

Project officials said a brand new rocket would carry the satellite and that was why it took some time to launch.

In November 2015, the BTRC signed a $248-million deal with Thales Alenia Space to manufacture and launch the satellite.

The satellite would be launched into a slot bought from Russian satellite company "Intersputnik" for $28 million in January 2015.

Bangladesh will be the 57th country in space. To celebrate the historical achievement, the government has made a massive preparation and will have fireworks on May 5 evening across the country.

Initially, the launch of the satellite was slated for the Victory Day 2017. But it was postponed until March after Hurricane Irma and subsequent floods hit Florida, said officials concerned of the project.

A 22-member team, led by state minister for information Tarana Halim, will also be in Florida during the launch of the satellite. Tarana was previously the state minister for telecom.

Talking about the advantages of the satellite, project officials said it would immensely contribute to the country's digital advancement.

Currently, Bangladesh meets its demand for satellite connectivity by renting bandwidth from foreign operators which costs the country about $14 million a year. Once launched, Bangabandhu-1 will save the foreign currency expenditure.

It will also improve the Direct to Home (D2H) services, making people's access to worldwide TV entertainment faster and easier.

Bangabandhu-1 will have 40 transponders and three of them would be used for broadcasting TV channels.

The country's remote parts -- haors, coastal areas and deep-sea zones -- will also have impressive internet connectivity. It will also be helpful for distance learning, treatment, and improvement of weather forecast facilities.

“The satellite will be a game changer in rescue operations after natural disasters,” said the BTRC chairman.

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