The Vietnamese government has selected May 2008 as the deadline for launching the country’s first communication satellite, a local official told the Xinhua news agency today. The government has asked the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group to do necessary works so that the medium-sized satellite named Vinasat, which will span its coverage over Vietnam, other Southeast Asian countries, Japan, the Korean peninsula, part of China, eastern Oceanean and the South China Sea, will be launched no later than May 23, 2008, a senior official from the state-owned group said, declining to be named.
The government has also decided to invest 2,885 billion Vietnamese dong (nearly US$182.6 million) in manufacturing and launching the Vinasat. Of the investment, 20 percent will come from its investor, the state-owned group, and the rest from loans, the official said. A satellite control station will be established in Hoai Duc district, northern Ha Tay province and a standby one in Ben Cat district, southern Binh Duong province.
“We hope that we will select a foreign partner for satellite production and relevant activities early next month,” the official said, noting that three firms have participated in the satellite tender, namely France’s EADS Astrium/Alcatel Alenia Space, the United States’ Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems, and Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation. The Vinasat is planned to have 25-30 transponders with a life span of around 15 years. After coming into operation, it will enable all of Vietnam’s communes to have phone, TV and radio coverage.
Currently, Vietnam has to use satellite services provided by foreign companies from Thailand, Indonesia and Russia. The Vinasat will be Vietnam’s second space project since the country’s first astronaut took part in a Soviet space mission in 1985.