NigComSat-1R boosts Nigeria, China relations

RufaiNigerian engineers take over management

THE recent launch of Nigeria Communications Satellite (NigComSat-1R) by the China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC) has strengthened the relationship between Nigeria and China, authorities said yesterday.

Established in 1980, CGWIC is the sole commercial organisation authorised by the Chinese government to provide satellites, commercial launch services and to carry out international space cooperation.

Officials of the CGWIC, who maintained that Nigeria was the first customer of the in-orbit delivery business of China space, stressed that the collaboration of China and Nigeria had been enhanced by mutual understanding and full trust built during the difficulties experienced in the course of the re-orbiting of the first communications satellite.

A statement from the corporation obtained by The Guardian read: “After the setback, Nigeria stood firm in its determination to utilise space for the benefit of her people and actively explored means to deepen its cooperation with China. China Space adhered to a high standard of integrity and rewarded the trust and choice of Nigeria with unprecedented commitment. The years from when the failure of NigComSat-1 was properly handled to the successful launch of NigComSat-1R have also witnessed the enhanced friendship between the two nations. China Space has progressed in its international development with very steady and solid steps.”

On December 20, 2011, Nigerian Communications Satellite -1R was successfully launched by China on a Long March 3B (LM-3B) launch vehicle from Xichang Satellite Launch Centre.

The launch was conducted according to the NigComSat-1R Contract signed by Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT LTD.) and China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC), a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). The NigComSat-1R is a replacement for the Nigeria Communications Satellite 1 (NigComSat-1) that failed in orbit.

NigComSat-1R spacecraft is built on Dong Fang Hong 4 (DFH-4) satellite bus developed by China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) and launched by LM-3B launch vehicle, developed by China Academy of Launch Vehicle (CALT). China Satellite Launch Tracking and Control General (CLTC) is providing tracking, control and ground segment support for the programme. The NigComSat-1R is the eighth satellite built on the DFH-4 bus for in-orbit delivery and the NigComSat-1R launch is the 18th flight of LM-3B launch vehicle and the 154th flight in the series of the Long March launchers.

NigComSat-1R, covering Central, Western and Southern Africa, Central and Eastern part of Europe, and some areas of Mid-Asia, will be mainly used for communications, broadcasting, tele-education, broad-band multimedia service, and navigation service.

“NigComSat-1R is expected to improve the relevant national infrastructure of Nigeria and benefit people within its coverage.

NigComSat-1R will promote the economic and technological development and social progress in neighbouring countries, especially the sub-Sahara African countries, and shall contribute substantially to the improvement of livelihood in the region,” the agency said.

The 50 Nigerian engineers who were involved in the NigComSat-1R project are to take over the management of the satellite from January.

The spokesman of the Nigeria Communications Satellite Limited, Sonny Akpore, who spoke to The Guardian, stressed that the engineers were involved from the design of the craft, software application programming, from the beginning up to the launch platform.

He said:  “They were also involved in the assembly, integration and testing, including in-orbit tests among others”.

Meanwhile, China’s satellite navigation system has become operational, according to an official.

Beidou now offered location, timing and navigation data to China and surrounding  areas,  said  the project’s spokesman Ran Cheng.

China has been working on the system since 2000 to provide an alternative to the United States government-run Global Positioning System (GPS).

The move should make China’s military less dependent on foreign technology.

A launch earlier this month delivered the 10th of Beidou’s satellites into orbit.

Beijing plans to send a further six satellites into space by 2012 to extend the system to most parts of Asia, and then expand the network to a total of 35 satellites offering global coverage by 2020.

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