Vietnam's second satellite to blast off this week

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Vietnam's second satellite will be launched on May 16, the Dan Tri newspaper quoted the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunication Group (VNPT) as saying Wednesday.

The launch of Vinasat-2 will be conducted together with Japan's JCSAT-13 by the European-owned Arianespace at 5.13 a.m. at the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana, VNPT officials said at a press conference that day.

The US$300 million satellite will be positioned at 131.8 degrees east when it goes into orbit.

It will cover Southeast Asia and neighboring countries during its 15-year life span.

According to Hoang Cong Lam, deputy director of Vietnam Telecom International, they plan to start operating the satellite for commercial purposes in July.

They expected to recoup investment in the satellite, which was been insured for VND4.7 trillion ($225.5 million), in 10 to12 years, said Hoang Minh Thong, director of the Management Board of VNPT's telecommunication projects.

Thong said Vinasat-2's operation center will be in Hanoi, together with the country's first satellite Vinasat-1, which was launched in April, 2008.

A back-up center is situated in the southern province of Binh Duong, he said, adding that the crew operating Vinasat-1 will also be in charge of the second satellite with help from foreign experts.

So far VNPT has exploited 90 percent of Vinasat-1's capacity, which covers Southeast and East Asia, India and Hawaii.

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