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Nation launches its first earth observation satellite

Update: May, 04/2013 - 10:00
HA NOI (VNS)— The country's first earth observation satellite, VNREDSat-1, was expected to be launched into orbit at 9.06 am Ha Noi time today from the Guiana Space Centre at the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. However, the plan was delayed due to unfavourable weather condition.

VNREDSat-1 or the Vietnam Natural Resources, Environment and Disaster Monitoring Small Satellite, was launched in co-operation between the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) and their French partner. With total investment of US$73.2 million from preferential French ODA and VND64.820 billion ($3million) from Viet Nam, the satellite was designed by the Astrium SAS Company and is Viet Nam's third satellite in the orbit following the two telecommunications satellites of Vinasat1 and Vinasat2.

Bui Trong Tuyen, VAST's deputy director and the project's management head, said that 2 hours after take-off, the satellite would separate from the VEGA rocket to adjust its working orbits. Tuyen said they expected to get the first signal at 14.30 today, and receive the first photographs of the earth from the satellite 2 days later.

Vietnamese authorities had relied on images from other satellites at US$2,000-5,000 per picture, but now can be more self sufficient. Tuyen said VNREDSat-1 was designed to provide high resolution satellite images to ministries, agencies, provinces and cities that have demand to use remote sensing satellite images, bringing practical effectiveness for socio-economic development, coping with natural disasters and climate change.

According to Astrium's website, the 130kg satellite, which was built at Astrium's Toulouse site, would image at 2.5m in panchromatic mode and 10m in multi-spectral mode (four bands) with a 17.5km swath, and will orbit at 600–700km in a sun synchronous orbit.

With a five-year lifetime and different working orbit for VNREDSat -1, Tuyen said good co-ordination between ministries and industries must ensure the satellites are used effectively.

Tuyen said three ground facilities had been launched including an academy-based operating center; a signal control station in Hoa Lac Hi-Tech Park in the west of Ha Noi and an image receiving station at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment as part of the satellite project. Together with the current staff, 15 Vietnamese engineers who were integrated and trained by the Astrium team are ready to work for the project. — VNS

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