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On-the-ground work on a Lao satellite project kicked off last week, with the expectation of launching the country’s first satellite into orbit by 2015.
A groundbreaking ceremony to mark the beginning of construction of a satellite station took place on Friday in Hadxaifong district, Vientiane.
Construction of the station is part of the first Lao satellite project (Lao Sat – 1), previously reported to be running at a cost of more than US$250 million.
The state-owned project will be developed with loan money from China, according to a Ministry of Post and Telecommunication senior official in charge of the project.
It was previously reported the loan would also be used to purchase a satellite and to cover the expense of launching it into space. The satellite will provide 22 transponders for both television and telephone.
The official said the satellite was expected to be launched into the 128.5 degrees orbital location, which is space owned by Laos, by 2015 when the country marks its 40th anniversary as the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
“The satellite is expected to be launched before December 2, 2015 [the 40th anniversary of National Day],” the official, who preferred not to be named, said.
The government in 2011 signed an agreement on the project with two Chinese companies, including China Asia-Pacific Mobile Telecommunications Satellite Co. Ltd.
The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by Minister of Post and Telecommunication Mr Hiem Phommachanh, Chinese ambassador to Laos Mr Guan Huabing and relevant officials.
In his speech at the ceremony Mr Hiem said the Lao Sat-1 project, once complete, would contribute significantly to socio-economic development in Laos.
Laos has been attempting to develop satellite projects to make full use of the two locations owned by the country and drive socio-economic development, particularly of the telecommunication sector.
The ministry is now working with a Chinese investor to develop another satellite to be located at the 126 degrees East orbital location that is also owned by Laos.
It was reported previously the Chinese investor Chengdu Linhai Electronics Co. Ltd would spend US$960 million developing the joint-venture project.
Laos will hold a 30 percent share in the project with the other 70 percent to be owned by the Chinese company.
Mr Hiem previously told Vientiane Times the satellite would provide 36 transponders for TV signals.
Laos has been working towards putting a satellite into orbit at the 126 degrees East location for a long time.
A previous joint venture with a Thai investor to put a satellite into orbit at the same location failed when the Thai party ran into financial difficulties.
The government later inked a cooperation agreement with an investor from the United States but that also failed for the same reason, according to Mr Hiem.
By Souksakhone Vaenkeo
(Latest Update April 01, 2014)