Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Bangabandhu-1 launch set for delay as Hurricane Irma hits Florida

  • Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2017-09-13 22:59:43 BdST


The launch of Bangladesh's first satellite, Bangabandhu-1, appears set for a delay due to the wretched condition of Hurricane Irma-hit Florida, Director of the satellite project Mohammad Mesbahuzzaman has said.

The hurricane hit the southeastern US state on Sunday leaving more than 3.4 million of its residents without electricity. Low-lying areas have gone under water there.

“The Cape Canaveral launch pad is currently inactive due to the adverse weather. It was due to launch satellites of South Korea and Bulgaria but those dates have been cancelled,” Mesbahuzzaman said on Wednesday.

Bangladesh was preparing for the launch of Bangabandhu-1 on Dec 16, the Victory Day, this year. It was due to be launched using SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket at the launch pad in Florida.

It takes two months to prepare the pad for launching any satellite using the SpaceX facility, Mesbahuzzaman said.

“The date previously fixed for Bangladesh now seems to be uncertain as schedule of two other satellites have been changed.”

The System Requirement Review and the Preliminary Design Review are done for project Bangabandhu-1 and constructions of engineering antenna, communication and service module are also done, he said.

Other tests related to the launch have been completed in the meantime, added the project director.

In July, State Minister for Posts and Telecommunications Tarana Halim visited the facility of Franco-Italian aerospace manufacturer Thales Alenia Space in France where the satellite is being built.

Upon finishing tests and review, the satellite would be taken to Cape Canaveral launch site via a special cargo plane.

Bangabandhu satellite received the green light at a cabinet meeting on Oct 21 in 2015. On Nov 11 that year, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission or BTRC signed a loan deal worth Tk 20 billion with Thales Group to buy 'satellite system.'

It signed a Tk 4 billion loan deal with Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) in September last year for sending the satellite into orbit.

The satellite is expected to save Tk 14 million yearly that is currently spent on renting foreign satellites.

The satellite will contain 40 transponders; Bangladesh will use 20 and rent out the rest.

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 BTCL or Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited.