DHAKA:Bangladesh has arrived at the historic moment of launching its first commercial satellite, “Bangabandhu-1” into orbit and secure a slot in the space as the 57th country in the wee hours of Friday.
“This satellite will bring enormous development and uninterrupted telecommunication system in our country especially in television, telephone and internet services,” Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) Chairman Dr Shahjahan Mahmood told the Daily Observer.
The satellite will be launched from Cape Canaveral of Florida in the US at 2:00am Bangladesh time today (Friday), subject to weather condition, with simultaneous jubilant fireworks across Bangladesh to celebrate the historical achievement.
A Falcon-9 rocket of American firm SpaceX is all set to fly for the space carrying Bangabandhu-1 at 4:00pm local time (BST 2:00am), different agencies reported from Florida.
“Bangabandhu-I weighing 3.7 tons has already been attached with rocket at the launching pad and all necessary technical preparations have been completed to launch it on 119.1 degree east longitude,” State Minister for Information Tarana Halim told national news agency BSS.
Prime Minister’s ICT Affairs Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy, State Minister for Information Tarana Halim, State Minister for Information and Communication Technology Junaid Ahmed Palak, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) Chairman Dr Shahjahan Mahmood, Parliamentary Standing
Committee Chairman on ICT Affairs Imran Ahmed and high officials concerned will be present at the launching ceremony.
State-owned Bangladesh Television (BTV) will broadcast live the launching of Bangabandhu-1.
Bangabandhu-1 Satellite project director Mejbahuzzaman told UNB that 20 days will require for bringing the satellite under full control. Once the satellite will be ready to operate, he said, the control will be transferred to the ground stations in Joydevpur of Gazipur and Betbunia in Rangamati.
Visitors will have to remain three to four kilometres away from the launch pad to see the take-off. The satellite will remain visible for around seven minutes, he added.
“The 3.7-tonne satellite will travel vertically up to 36,000km from the launch pad before making adjustments for orbit, and it will take 10 days for that,” project Director Mezbahuzzaman said.
The launch process 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 one 20 days, he said.
The Bangabandhu-1 with a capacity of 1,600 megahertz will have 40 transponders and the physical equipment of the space capsule that measures the capacity.
At present Bangladesh is spending annually more than US $14 million on satellite rent to ensure connectivity of television, radio, telephone and Internet. So this satellite will make Bangladesh self-contained and Bangladesh will also earn some foreign currency by broadcasting service.
India and Pakistan have their own satellites, Sri-Lanka is in queue. So Bangladesh rent service to Nepal, Myanmar or Bhutan and may earn more than $50 million per year.
“Communication system of Bangladesh will get new progression of development. This satellite will give Bangladesh a long term service to a large scalability, global availability, reliability, versatility and super performance,” Shahjahan Mahmood said.
Some sectors like telemedicine, e-learning, e-research, video conference, defence and disaster management system will be improved for this satellite in Bangladesh.
The satellite was scheduled to be launched on May 7 but had to defer due to inclement weather. The satellite’s launch was also rescheduled a couple of times earlier.
SpaceX had reportedly planned to launch the satellite using Falcon-9 rockets on December 16, but the launch was postponed due to Hurricane Irma.
In September 2016, Bangladesh signed a 14-billion-taka (about $180 million) loan agreement with the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) to finance the country’s first-ever satellite “Bangabandhu-I”.
In November 2015, Bangladesh signed a 19.51-billion-taka (US$248 million) deal with French firm Thales Alenia Space for the satellite project.
The Bangladeshi government has already purchased a 119.1 east longitude orbital slot from Russia-based Intersputnik for 15 years.
It will offer Ku-band and C-band services across Bangladesh and its territorial waters of the Bay of Bengal, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Philippines and Indonesia. The government also plans to launch follow-on series of BD-2 and BD-3 satellites in phases.
The two ground stations that will control the satellite will be built at Gazipur’s Joydebpur and Rangamati’s Betbunia on the land owned by Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd.
The ground stations for the satellite have been built at Gazipur’s Joydebpur and Rangamati’s Betbunia.
In a statement on Thursday, Palak said Bangabandhu-1 is going to reduce Bangladeshi TV channels’ dependence on satellites owned by foreign nations for their broadcasting services and therefore, save valuable foreign currency. At present, Bangladesh spends Tk 14 million a year on renting foreign satellites.
Also, it will enable Bangladesh to provide services to foreign channels after meeting the demand at home and earn foreign currency, he said adding the government plans to dedicate half of the 40 transponders of the satellite to the local TV channels while remaining half will be deployed to serve the channels from other countries.
The satellite is also expected to work as an alternative option for both data and telecommunication services, especially during emergency and natural disaster, according to the statement.
Describing Bangabandhu-1 as an “ambitious yet timely initiative” of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as part of her government’s vision to build ‘Digital Bangladesh’ by 2021, Palak hoped it will be the first in a series of satellites to be launched by Bangladesh.