Vietnam Launches Its First Satellite

Vietnam launched its first satellite over the weekend to provide telecommunications, broadcasting and Internet links across the country.

Vinasat-1 was carried into space aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from the European spaceport in French Guiana at 7:17pm local time (10:17pm GMT) Friday evening.

"With transmission capacity equivalent to 10,000 voice, Internet and data channels, or 120 TV channels, Vinasat-1 will help Vietnam bring telecommunications, Internet and television services to all isolated, mountainous and island areas where other means of transmission is not feasible," said Doan Hop Le, Vietnam's minister of Information and Communication, in a televised speech shortly after the launch.

The country is expecting economic gains from the telecommunications links that the satellite will support. At the very least it stands to save several million dollars per year in fees currently paid for leasing of transponders on satellites owned by other countries but also expects the services supported by Vinasat-1 will lead to growth in the economy.

"Successfully launching the first satellite is an event of great political, technical and socioeconomic significance and will help raise the image of Vietnam in the international arena," the minister said. "This is a memorable milestone for Vietnam in its development and integration into the world economy."

Vinasat-1 was built by Lockheed Martin and will be positioned at 132-degrees East. It carries 12 Ku-band and 8 C-band transponders and has a design lifetime of 15 years. Its footprint will cover all of South East Asia in addition to the eastern part of China, India, Korea, Japan, Australia and Hawaii.

Five other nations in the region already have their own satellites in space: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

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