First made-in-Vietnam satellite ready to go

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An artist's impression of FPT University's satellite

The first satellite made in Vietnam will be put into orbit by a robotic hand at the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday.

The satellite, built by Hanoi-based private telecom firm FPT, will send signals to earth a day after that, Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon Online quoted a company source as saying.

The satellite, named F1, was carried to the ISS by a Japanese spaceship in late July.

Experts from Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and NASA agreed that using a robotic hand to put a satellite into space was the best method this time around. The traditional method is to use a rocket.

F-1 is a 10 centimeter cube weighing one kilogram. FPT University spent around VND4 billion (US$191,800) and more than two years building the satellite, beginning in late 2008. It was designed to take 640x480-pixel photos and transmit data to earth at 1,200 bits per second.

Vu Trong Thu, head of FSpace at FPT University, where the satellite was designed and built, said "F1 will only be a success after it is put into orbit, operates and the land station receives its signals."

The school is considering building a F2 satellite at twice the size and weight.

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FPT said it would build a series of similar satellites for naval and jungle observation.

Vietnam began using its second satellite, Vinasat-2, in early July, four years after it launched its first, Vinasat-1. Both were built by the US-based Lockheed Martin Corporation.

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