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China launches Laos' first ever satellite

December 7, 2015

A $258 million satellite communications project for Laos launched last month from the Xichang launch centre in China's Sichuan province, Spaceflight Now reports.

The LaoSat1 is Laos' first satellite and is intended to improve connectivity for the mountainous Southeast Asia country, as well as other surrounding regions.

In what's been called a "landmark" for the country by its state media, the project launched from Xichang aboard a Long March 3B rocket last month, aided by four strap-on liquid-fuelled boosters. According to US military satellite tracking data, the LaoSat1 was deployed in a geostationary transfer orbit that ranges from between 190 kilometers (118 miles) and 41,787 kilometers (29,965 miles) in altitude, with an incline of 18.4 degrees.

Over the next few weeks, the satellite's on-board propulsion system will boost it into a circular geostationary orbit over the equator, after which point it will eventually move to a permanent operating position of 128.5 degrees east longitude.

The satellite, which was built and funded by China, hosts eight Ku-band and 4 C-band transponders. It's design life is expected to last for 15 years.

Commenting on the project, Laos' minister of post and telecommunications, Hiem Phommachanh, noted that it would be of particular use to Laos due to its largely mountainous terrain.

"Our satellite will be used for many purposes, including distance education and medicine, telecommunications and internet links, as well as facilitating anti disaster efforts," he added.

The Laos government has stated that two of the 22 transponders will be used within the country, with the remaining payload being released to customers from other nations. Official state media announced that the satellite will be managed and operated from Vientiane, the Laos capital, with engineers from both Laos and China working on it.

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