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Home > China-UK Events > 2007
China launches communications satellite for Nigeria
 XICHANG, Sichuan Province, May 14 -- China launched a communications satellite for Nigeria early Monday, a first for an African country and the first time China has provided both the satellite and the launch service.

    The Long March 3-B carrier rocket, blasted off from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province at 0:01 Monday and the northwest Xi'an Satellite Control center said the satellite had accurately entered its orbit .

    The Nigerian Communication Satellite, or NIGCOMSAT-1, a super hybrid geo-stationary satellite will provide communications services for Africa, parts of the Middle East and southern Europe.

    China began launching satellites for foreign countries in the early 1990s. The NIGCOMSAT-1 is the first satellite which Chinese scientists have designed, built and launched for another country.

    Observers say the successful launch of NIGCOMSAT-1 will create new business opportunities for China's space industry.

    Nigeria's Minister of Science and Technology and several other high-ranking Nigerian officials witnessed the launch, which was broadcast live by the Nigeria Television Authority.

    Experts estimate that the satellite will revolutionize telecommunications, broadcasting and broadband multimedia services in Africa. They say it will help create thousand of new jobs for Nigerians, provide Internet access to remote rural villages, and save more than 660 million U.S. dollars in telephone charges.

    It is also expected to improve e-commerce and government efficiency by promoting the development of the digital economy in Nigeria and throughout the African continent.

    Chinese space scientists say completed building the satellite in two years, about five months less than most developed countries.

    Hammed Rufai, managing director of the NIGCOMSAT-1 project, said the satellite would help Nigeria transform itself into a knowledge-based economy and lessen its dependence on the oil trade.

    A Nigeria aerospace official described the launch of the NIGCOMSAT-1 as "a monumental achievement for Nigerians" and "a beginning of economic and technological emancipation" of the entire African continent, Nigeria's Business Day reported last week.

    The satellite will be fixed in an orbit at a longitude of 42 degrees east. It is expected to go into operation in Nigeria before the end of the year and has a lifespan of 15 years.

    The satellite will be monitored a ground station to be built in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, by Chinese firm Great Wall Industry Corporation, and a ground station in Kashgar, in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

    The Chinese company will offer support services and training for Nigerian technicians.

    China was awarded the contract in 2004, outbidding 21 international rivals to secure the 311 million U.S. dollar deal.

    The satellite and carrier rocket were developed by the China Academy of Space Technology and China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, both of which are under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

    The launch was 98th in China's Long March series of rockets.

    Observers say the satellite program shows China is serious about cooperating with developing countries in the peaceful use of outer space and is committed to promoting closer relations with African countries.

    China has been commissioned to launch about 30 foreign satellites.

    A Venezuelan communication satellite is expected to be launched by China in the later half of 2008.

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