XICHANG, Sichuan Province -- China on early Monday morning launched a
communications satellite for Nigeria, the first of its kind in Africa and the
first time a foreign buyer has purchased a Chinese satellite and its launching
The satellite is ready at Xichang Satellite
Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province, May 14, 2007. China
on early Monday morning launched a communications satellite for Nigeria,
the first of its kind in Africa and the first time a foreign buyer has
purchased a Chinese satellite and its launching service, Xinhua
The carrier rocket, Long March 3-B, 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 entered orbit accurately.
The Nigerian Communication Satellite, or NIGCOMSAT-1, is a super hybrid
geo-stationary satellite designed to operate in Africa, parts of the Middle East
and southern Europe.
The Nigerian government delegation present at the launching ceremony here
include the Minister of Science and Technology and several other high-ranking
The entire launching process and the ceremony was broadcast live from China
by the Nigeria Television Authority.
Experts estimate that the satellite program will revolutionize
telecommunications, broadcasting and broadband multimedia services in Africa.
It will create more than 150,000 jobs for Nigerians, save broadband users
more than 95 million U.S. dollars a year, as well as providing Internet access
to remote rural villages, and save more than 660 million U.S. dollars in phone
It is also expected to play key roles in e-commerce, improving government
efficiency and promoting the development of the digital economy in Nigeria and
throughout the entire African continent.
Hammed Rufai, managing director of the NIGCOMSAT-1 project, said the
satellite would help Nigeria break free from its over-reliance on oil trade and
transform itself into a knowledge-based economy.
A Nigeria space official earlier 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 change positions in orbit until it is finally fixed at a
longitude of 42 degrees east. It is expected to be put into use by Nigeria
before the end of the year and has a lifespan of 15 years.
The satellite will be monitored and tracked by 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 satellite's ground facility in Abuja "had the potential of making Nigeria
a major traffic hub in the west and central African region" and will prompt
Nigeria and neighboring countries to "expand their switching facilities to be
able to handle international traffic", according to a Nigerian communication
The Chinese company will offer support services and training for Nigerian
China was awarded the deal in 2004 after it outbid 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 under the China
Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.
The launch represents the 98th flight of China's Long March series of
The satellite represents China's wish to cooperate with developing countries
in the peaceful use of outer space and to promote a closer relationship between
China and African countries, observers say.
China has signed several cooperative contracts offering commercial launching
services for foreign satellites, said an official on space development, citing a
similar satellite contract with Venezuela in November 2005 and adding that China
has been commissioned to send about 30 foreign satellites into space.