Vinasat-1 finally gets into orbit

Vietnam's first satellite has been launched successfully. Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems manufactured the Vinasat-1, which will be operated by the country's incumbent telco, Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT).

The Vinasat-1 was placed into geostationary orbit at 132 degrees East via an Ariane 5 booster from the French Guiana spaceport.

The satellite has a payload of 12 Ku-band and 8 C-band transponders for radio, TV and telephony transmission services covering Vietnam, Laos, East Asia, India and Australia.

The estimated €189.7 million (US$300 million) Vinasat programme has been in the works for years. It secured the orbital slot in 1999 and funding in 2003, and was originally aiming for launch in 2005.

However, the project was delayed due to frequency coordination issues with Japan and Tonga. Vinasat's orbital slot overlaps with slots registered by both countries, and under ITU allocation rules, the burden was on Vietnam to find a compromise.

Tonga has no satellite of its own, but has a legal right under ITU rules to protect its orbital and adjacent slots from interference.

The launch, which marked the 24th successful consecutive flight of the Ariane 5, also put Brazil's Star One C2 satellite in orbit.