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Cheers as Nigeria launches communications satellite into orbit

Posted by From Emeka Anuforo, Abuja on 2007/05/14 | Views: 1643 |

Cheers as Nigeria launches communications satellite into orbit


TRUE to prediction, the much awaited launch of the Nigerian communication satellite, the first of its kind in Africa, took place and went on the 20 to 30 - minute trip into orbit where it is expected to provide robust and reliable satellite services to citizens in Africa and Europe.

TRUE to prediction, the much awaited launch of the Nigerian communication satellite, the first of its kind in Africa, took place and went on the 20 to 30 - minute trip into orbit where it is expected to provide robust and reliable satellite services to citizens in Africa and Europe.

The excitement at the site, according to Nigerian officials at the launch, was "electrifying."

Head of Corporate Affairs and Media at the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Mr. Felix Ale, told The Guardian on phone that the launch was successful.

He quoted the agency's Director General Prof. Robert Ajayi Boroffice, as saying that the 30-minute movement of the satellite went on without delay.

According to Ale, "Prof. Boroffice has also called President Olusegun Obasanjo to inform him of the success of the launch. The President was impressed and full of praises for NASRDA.

The NASRDA boss described the launch as a monumental technological leap and victory for Africa.

"With the successful launch of NIGCOMSAT-1, technological revolution in Africa has started as nobody can stop it."

Ale said the Nigerian Ambassador to China, Mr. J.O. Coker was among top Nigerian and African officials who gathered to witness the launch at the site.

He reported that Boroffice thanked Obasanjo for the confidence reposed in the agency to embark on the project.

The extraordinarily long ascent of NIGCOMSAT-1 spacecraft began at 00:01hrs Beijing time May 14, 2007 (5.01 p.m.) Nigerian time, May 13) as the first stage main engine with four boosters of LongMarch 3B rocketed away from Launch Pad 2 of Xichang Satellite Launch Centre located 65 kilometres away from Xichang region.

Tracking cameras at the launch complex followed the rocket's fiery golden tail flashing through the partly cloudy pre-dawn skies of Sichuan Province in Southwest China.

The members of the Federal Government's team to China, who witnessed the event included the Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Turner Isoun, Principal Secretary to the President, Mr. Steve Oransanye and Boroffice.

An e-mail statement sent from the launch site in China to The Guardian explained that the Nigerian communication satellite had earlier undergone pre-launch test and passed same in China.

The Managing Director of Nigerian Communication Satellite Limited and Programme Manager of NIGOMSAT-1, Mr. Ahmed Rufai said in the e-mail that "the launch readiness review was held on May 11, 2007, with the following presentations:


China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) on the readiness of the Satellite;

China Academy of launch vehicle technology on the launch vehicle readiness;

China Launch and Tracking Control General on the telemetry and tracking and control readiness;

Xichang Satellite Launch Centre on the launch site and weather forecast; and

NIGCOMSAT - 1 on launch campaign feedback.
The Xichang Satellite Launch Centre (XSLC) is located in Sichuan Province in southwest China.

According to Rufai, based on the successful review, it was agreed that the NIGCOMSAT-1 Satellite, the LM-3B launch vehicle, The launch site and the TT&C systems were all ready for launch.

He said consequently, all the parties gave their consent for the fuelling of the LM-3B vehicle and final consent given by Rufai to launch the NIGCOMSAT-1 at 5.01 p.m. on May 13, 2007 or 00.01, May 14, 2007- Beijing time."

Rufai said of the launch: "The extraordinarily long ascent of NIGCOMSAT-1 spacecraft begins at 00:01 hours Beijing time of 14th May, 2007 (5.01 p.m., Nigerian time, 13th of May) as the first stage main engine with four boosters of LongMarch - 3B rockets away from Launch Pad 2 of Xichang Satellite Launch Centre located 65 kilometres away from Xichang region.

"Tracking cameras at the launch complex will follow the rocket's fiery golden tail flashing through the partly cloudy pre-dawn skies of Sichuan Province in Southwest China.

"Within 26 minutes, the LM-3B would have fired its three stage engines and released NIGCOMSAT-1 satellite into Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO)," he said.

Rufai continued: "Thereafter, NIGCOMSAT-1 satellite will begin a sequence of five manoeuvres over the next 151.2 hours (6.3 days) with controllers tracking the satellite at six different earth stations overseeing several carefully-planned use of the satellite's on board 490N Apogee engine to circularise and reach its geostationary orbit where it will march earth's rotation and appear fixed above one spot of the globe which stretches about 36,000km on longitude 42 degrees East inclined at zero degrees to the Equator after expending a total propellant mass of 2,247.81kg.

"The high-powered satellite of 9,000W with launch mass of 5,100 kg built on DFH-4 bus platform with its power-generating solar arrays and antenna appendages stowed at lift-off will deploy its solar array 45 minutes after separation from the third-stage engine

of LM-3B after sun-acquisition and in another 45 minutes, NIGCOMSAT -1 will deploy its stowed Ku-band antennas.

"The craft spanning about 26 metres in orbit (more than half the breadth of a standard football field) will be ready to enter service next month after completion of in-orbit test at both Kashi and Abuja Earth Station specifically built for the hybrid satellite," he narrated.

China-based satellite builder, CAST, manufactured NIGCOMSAT-1 based upon the company's DFH-4 design. The quad-band craft is equipped with 28 transponders - 14 in Ku-band, four in C-band and two in L-band (navigation) and eight in Ka-band.



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