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Vietnam Aims To Launch First Satellite In 2008

Hanoi now has until the second quarter of 2008 to achieve its goals if it does not want to lose its rights on the orbital position booked years ago with the Geneva-based International Telecommunications Union.
Hanoi (AFP) Oct 29, 2005
Vietnam has resurrected its delayed project to launch a satellite and now plans to put one into orbit in 2008, government sources said.

Hanoi's plans to put a satellite in space are a priority for the government which is keen to acquire a powerful symbol of its sovereignty and technological prowess.

Prime Minister Phan Van Khai has formally asked authorities to reopen an international tender for the construction of the country's first satellite after months of standstill, sources said.

The premier said the satellite carrying up to 20 communication modules would have to be launched before the second quarter of 2008 and earlier this month sent written instructions asking the state-owned Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Corp (VNPT) to go ahead with the bidding for the "Vinasat" satellite.

"Under the new government's decision, the project must be implemented as soon as possible," a senior official of the VNPT's Vinasat Committee which is in charge of the project told AFP Friday.

"The government told us that we have the project, the orbit and the budget, and that we should go ahead immediately," he said asking not be named.

An official from a foreign company told AFP he had received an official invitation to present his offer, but he also declined to be named.

"The project is going ahead again," he said. The very sensitive project has suffered major delays over the last few years, especially due to difficulties for Vietnam to coordinate frequencies with neighbouring satellites already in orbit.

Plans to launch it by late 2005 had to be abandoned.

Hanoi now has until the second quarter of 2008 to achieve its goals if it does not want to lose its rights on the orbital position booked years ago with the Geneva-based International Telecommunications Union.

Last year, four candidates competed for the project: Russia's NPOPM, the European consortium Astrium (EADS)-Alcatel Espace, the American Lockheed-Martin and the US-Japanese consortium NEC-Toshiba-Orbital Science Corporation.

Officials declined to say how many companies would be called in this time. The English-language daily Saigon Times said at least nine international contractors have expressed interest.

The satellite is expected to be operational for 15 years and help transmit television and radio signals as well as civil aviation communications covering remote regions of Vietnam.

But the project is partly shrouded in secrecy because of its defence implications.

It requires the construction "of a terrestrial command station to serve national defence communications and Vietnamese public television," state media said earlier this year.

The project could cost around 200 million dollars.

All rights reserved. � 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

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