China has launched the first communications satellite for Nigeria using a CZ-3B Chang Zheng-3B from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province. Launch occured at 4:01pm (UTC), Sunday.
The launch of the NigComSat-1 – which was confirmed a few hours later by Chinese news services – was conducted on the 98th flight of China’s Chang Zheng (Long March) series of space launch vehicles.
NigComSat-1 resulted from a $311 million dollar contract between the Nigerian government and the state owned China Great Wall Industry Corp that was started in 2004 – which was initiated by the Nigerian government in November 2003.
The satellite is based on the DFH-4 satellite platform and has a launch mass of 5150 kg and a service life of 15 years, operating in geosynchronous orbit at 42 degrees east. The spacecraft is a three axis stabilized satellite that used a bi-propellant propulsion system for station keeping and orbital maneuvers.
According to NASRDA (the National Space Research Development Agency of Nigeria), the satellite – constructed by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) – has a communications platform equipped with 4 C-band transponders, 14 Ku-band transponders, 8Ka-band transponders and 2 L-band transponders.
This L-band payload will provide NOS (Navigation Overlay Service) based on the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS).
NigComSat-1 will have an important role in telecommunications, providing urban and rural telephony, trunking and relay services, mobile and paging services, corporate and VSAT networks, inter-carrier services and satellite to satellite services.
It will be used for broadcasting (high-definition TV and DTH services, multimedia, video streaming, and audio and sound services), internet and multimedia services (video conference, solutions for virtual private networks, and VoIP protocols), real time monitoring services, navigation and global positioning coverage, and telepresence.
NigComSat-1 is only a small part of a larger agreement between Nigeria and China. This project will enable the Great Wall company – that is the sole authorized satellite launch service provider in China – to secure a greater share of the international satellite launch market.
Other aspects of the agreement saw China training Nigerian technicians and constructing a ground station in Nigeria.
According to Nigerian satellite program director Ahmed Rufai, the partnership between the two countries is ‘mutually beneficial,’ and contributes to diversifying the African nation’s monolithic economy from being resource-based to knowledge and service based.