Ariane rocket launches Vietnam's first satellite

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Friday, April 18, 2008

A mockup of an Ariane 5 rocket
Image: Wikimedia Commons User:Poppy.

At 22:17 UTC this evening, Vietnam's first satellite, Vinasat-1 was launched aboard an Ariane 5ECA rocket, from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana.

The launch was conducted by the European organisation Arianespace, and a Brazillian satellite, Star One C-2, was also launched on the same flight. The satellites will be placed into geosynchronous orbits, 35,000 kilometres above the equator, from where they will provide telecommunications services to various parts of the world. Star One C-2 separated from the carrier rocket 26 minutes after lift-off, and Vinasat-1 separated 31 minutes into the flight, completing a successful ascent.

Vinasat-1 will be operated by the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Corporation. It was constructed by Lockheed Martin, and is based on the A2100A satellite bus. It will provide C and Ku-Band communications. It will be positioned in a geosynchronous orbital slot at 132°E longitude, high above Vietnam. It has an expected on-orbit lifetime of 15 years and weighs 2637 kilograms. The programme was started in 1998, and launch was originally scheduled for 2005, but was delayed due to political issues concerning the communication frequencies that it was to use.

The other satellite being launched is Star One C-2, which will be operated by Star One. It is based on the SpaceBus 3000B3 satellite bus, and was constructed by Thales Alenia Space. It has a mass of 4100 kilograms, and is equipped with C, Ku, and X-band transponders. It will be positioned in a geosynchronous orbit at 65°W longitude, to provide services to the Americas.

This was the 18th orbital launch of 2008, and the second to be conducted by an Ariane 5. It was the 182nd launch to be conducted by Arianespace, and the 38th launch of an Ariane 5. The next Ariane launch is scheduled for late May, with Skynet 5C for the British Ministry of Defence, and Turksat 3A for Turksat.

Speaking after the launch had been confirmed to be a success, Jean-Yves Le Gall, the CEO of Arianespace remarked that he was "delighted to share...this new success", and that he appreciated the customers' trust. Jean-Marie Robert, of Thales Alenia Space, thanked Star One for trusting in their ability to deliver the satellite, and said that he hoped the satellite would have very long lives. Lincoln Oliveira, the CTO of Star One, thanked Arianespace and Thales Alenia Space for the success of his company's satellites. He also congratulated Vietnam on its first satellite launch. Lindsey Thompson, the Vice President for programmes of Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems, thanked her company's employees for the success of the mission, and wished Vinasat-1 well. Doan Hop Le, Vietnam's Minister of Information Technology and Communications said that the successful launch was important for "confirming sovereignty of Vietnam in space", that it had "great technical and socio-economic significance", and that it brought "Vietnam's communication industry up to a new height".