Bangabandhu satellite on its way to orbit

BSS . Dhaka | Update:

Photo: BSSBangabandhu-I is now on its way to orbit after its launching in the early hours of Saturday, making Bangladesh's debut in the global space society.

The event took place at 2:14am Bangladesh time on Saturday when the country's first geostationary communication satellite started its voyage towards orbit from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, the USA.

Falcon 9, the rocket of American firm SpaceX, started carrying the satellite to the orbit from the Cape Canaveral launching pad at 4:14pm US local time.

A Bangladesh delegation, led by prime minister's ICT affairs adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy, witnessed the launching of the satellite, which was visible for around seven minutes in the Florida's clear sky.

Thousands of people across the world witnessed the launching, which was telecast by different television channels.

"Bangladesh started a glorious chapter in the history with the launching of Bangabandhu-1 satellite as it has become a proud member of the satellite club from today," the president said in a message.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina greeted the countrymen for successful launching of Bangladesh's first communication satellite into space, saying that it added a new milestone to the path of continued advancement of the country.

"Bangladesh entered the space era, with this perfect and successful launching (of the satellite). Bangabandhu-I is our first own satellite, which is now on its way to orbit. Joy Bangla! Joy Bangabandhu!" said prime minister's ICT affairs adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy in a Facebook status, who was leading a Bangladeshi delegation to Florida to witness the satellite launching.

"On this day I would like to remember father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who initiated the task of entering the space age by setting up the country's first ever satellite earth station in 1974," said state minister for ICT division Zunaid Ahmed Palak, who also witnessed the event from Florida.

He also confirmed that the two ground stations in Gazipur and Betbunia have successfully received initial test signals of the Bangabandhu-1 after its launching.

He said launching of the satellite is an instance of technology-led transformation of Bangladesh under the leadership of prime minister Sheikh Hasina and her ICT affairs adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy.

The first launching attempt of Bangabandhu-I satellite, however, was postponed in the early hours of Friday due to 'standard ground system auto abort'; and the SpaceX made successful launching on Saturday.

With sending the Bangabandhu-I to the orbit, Bangladesh has become the 57th country to launch a geostationary communication satellite.

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) chairman Shahjahan Mahmood earlier said Falcon-9 will pull the 3.7-tonne satellite vertically up to 36,000km from the launch pad before making adjustments for orbit.

The launching has two phases. The first is the Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP), and the second phase is Satellite in Orbit. The LEOP phase will take 10 days while the second will take 20 days.

Mahmood said after completing and traveling several processes, few more days will be required to tame the satellite at its Gazipur's Joydebpur and Rangamati's Betbunia ground stations.

Manufactured by the Thales Alenia Space of France, Bangladesh will operate satellite from 119.1 degree East using a payload comprising 26 Ku-Band and 14 C-Band transponders to deliver focused telecommunications coverage to Bangladesh. One transponder is equivalent to 36 MHz.

Ku-band covers Bangladesh and its territorial area of the Bay of Bengal, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the Philippines. C- band covers Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and portions of Kazakhstan.

SpaceX had previously planned to launch the satellite using Falcon-9 rockets on 16 December, 2017, but the launch was postponed due to damage from hurricane Irma.

The government took the Bangabandhu-I project in May 2015 and assigned the Thales Alenia by signing a $248- million deal in November same year.

Thales Alenia completed the manufacturing works of the satellite few months ago and kept it in a warehouse in Cannes of France. Later, on 29 March, the satellite was shifted to Florida.

Two ground stations for controlling the satellite have already been built at Joydebpur of Gazipur and Rangamati's Betbunia. The satellite has 15 years for mission life span while another three years for its design.

The satellite will offer video services for Direct-to-Home (DTH), e-learning, tele-medicine, family planning, and farming while voice service to cellular backhaul and disaster recovery, and data service for internet, SCADA, SOHO as well as business-to-business (VSAT).

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