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29 September 2009

China, Laos sign agreement on communication satellite

China will build and launch a communications satellite for Laos, following similar ventures for Nigeria and Venezuela, reported AFP, quoting Chinese media reports Saturday.

China would also build a satellite control centre for Laos, according to an agreement signed Friday, reports said, citing an official at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT).

The Dongfang Hong (The East is Red) model satellite would be launched by a Long March rocket. No date was given for the launch.

In 2007, China for the first time launched a Chinese-made satellite for a foreign country, Nigeria.

However, the 257-million-dollar NigComSat-1 satellite -- which was launched to provide phone, broadband Internet and broadcasting services to rural Africa -- failed after a year due to technical problems.

In October 2008, Beijing launched Venezuela's first satellite, Venesat-1, which cost 241 million dollars.

Bolivian President Evo Morales indicated after a meeting Thursday with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao, that China had agreed to help Bolivia build and launch its first telecommunications satellite within three years.

China, which has developed its space programme considerably in recent years, is a growing presence in the market for building and launching satellites.

In March this year, the head of European aerospace giant Arianespace expressed "shock" that China had been chosen by Eutelsat Communications to launch a satellite, and claimed it circumvented US rules to prevent the export of sensitive materials to certain countries, including China.

"We do not dispute the price factor, even if we think that to penetrate the market, China offers prices which do not reflect economic reality," Arianespace chairman Jean-Yves Le Gall had said.


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