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$400m South Asian Satellite ready for launch

  • Published at 07:47 pm May 4th, 2017
  • Last updated at 09:17 pm May 4th, 2017
$400m South Asian Satellite ready for launch
The South Asian Satellite will be launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on Friday, fulfilling a promise made by Indian PM Narendra Modi to deliver a "gift" to his regional neighbours. The communications satellite, constructed by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) for an approximate budget of $400 million, will contain 12 transponders of which Bangladesh will receive one for free. Other SAARC members who supported the project will also receive free transponders. The launch, to be conducted using a Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mk-II, will be jointly inaugurated by Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina through video conference. The Bangladesh PM will join the video conference from her official Ganabhaban residence at 5:30pm. India developed the South Asian Satellite so that participating countries could host applications in the areas of education, health and emergency communication. The benefits associated with participation in the project include tele-education, tele-medicine, inter-government networks, emergency communication for disaster management, television broadcast and DTH television service. However, Pakistan and Afghanistan opposed the original 2014 proposal, which left the project dead in the water. According to SAARC rules, if any member country opposes a decision, it will not be implemented. Later, the satellite project was renamed the 'South Asian Satellite' after Pakistan and Afghanistan were discounted as participants. On March 23, Bangladesh signed a deal with India for orbit frequency coordination of the South Asian Satellite, with it being set at 48 degrees east. Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) Chairman Dr Shahjahan Mahmood and Indian High Commissioner to Dhaka Harsha Bardhan Shringla signed the agreement on behalf of their respective countries at the BTRC office in Dhaka. Meanwhile, Bangladesh is also preparing to launch its own satellite, Bangabandhu-1, on December 16 this year. "Around 80% of the work is complete and the satellite is expected to be ready for launch by October," said State Minister for Post and Telecommunications Tarana Halim.