Vietnam plans 2nd remote sensing satellite

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Vietnam's first remote sensing satellite VNREDSat-1 in orbit. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology

Vietnam has announced plans to launch its second remote sensing satellite in 2017 after successfully launching its first from a French space station earlier this month.

A statement by the Belgian embassy in Hanoi Thursday said VNREDSat - 1B would be built by Belgian companies, mainly by software engineering company Spacebel.

The satellite, which will weight around 130 kilograms, will be part of a European Space Agency project to launch small, low-cost satellites for both practical use and technology demonstration.

It is expected to cost around US$77.90 million and will be partly funded by Belgian official development assistance.

It will help Vietnam observe natural resources, deal with natural disasters, and protect its sovereignty.

Vietnam's first remote sensing satellite was launched May 5 from the Kourou space station in French Guiana in South America.

The 115-kg VNREDSat-1, which cost $75.5 million to build, will be used for climate monitoring by the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology for five years.

It was built by the European-owned Astrium Satellites and launched aboard Europe's Vega rocket.

Two other satellites were also on the payload, including the European Space Agency's 140-kg Proba-V for mapping vegetation cover, and a 1.3-kg Estonian microsatellite to test an electric solar sail.

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For its satellite, Vietnam built three earth stations and sent 20 engineers to Toulouse to train.

The country has launched two communications satellites, Vinasat-1 and Vinasat-2, since 2008.

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