Vietnam's 3rd satellite all set for launch from French space center

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Vietnam's third satellite VNREDSat-1 will be launched between April 18 and 20

Everything is in readiness for the launch of Vietnam's third satellite between April 18 and 20, news website VnExpress quoted an official as saying.

Dr Bui Trong Tuyen, chief of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology's Small Satellite Management Board, said Earth observation satellite VNREDSat-1 would be taken to Kourou space center in French Guiana Friday.

From there it would be launched into a Sun-synchronous orbit, and earth stations would be able to receive its first signals around seven hours after launch, he said.

An operation center has been built at the academy, while two stations to receive signals and photos from the satellite have been established at the Ministry of Natural Resource and the Hoa Lac Hi-Tech Park in Hanoi.

"All the systems at the three centers have been completed and are ready for receiving, operating, and exploiting the satellite."

Meanwhile, engineers who were sent to France have finished their training and are now capable of operating the satellite, he said.

The Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology had sent 15 engineers to Toulouse for an 18-month training session.

Another team of five engineers from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment was trained to operate systems for receiving and processing satellite signals.

VNREDSat-1, which has an expected life span of five years, can take photographs of the Earth, helping authorities forecast climate change and disasters, especially floods, wildfires, and oil spills, Tuyen said.

It would also provide high-definition photos that allow agencies to monitor forests and agricultural lands, explore for minerals, and even keep track of fish shoals, he said.

The photos will be sent to Earth almost in real time, he said.

Now it costs Vietnam US$2,000-5,000 for each photo bought from foreign companies, and it takes between one and two months to get them, he revealed.

The latest satellite costs US$75.5 million, of which $72.5 million was a loan by France in the form of official development assistance.

It was made by the European-owned Astrium Satellites at its plant in Toulouse.

Vietnam launched its earlier satellites, Vinasat-1 and Vinasat-2, in 2008 and last year.

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