Dhaka’s satellite launch uncertain

Bangladesh’s first-ever satellite launch project is facing uncertainty.
About 20 countries, including the USA, France, Russia and Australia, have expressed displeasure about the satellite launching programme at the planned slot of 102 degree in orbit. Instead, they have asked Bangladesh to launch the satellite at the slot of 69 degree east, officials in Dhaka said yesterday.
On the other hand, China, Malaysia and Singapore have opposed the plan of launching it at the slot of 69 degree.
Earlier, Bangladesh had applied to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for a slot at 102 degree in orbit to launch the $150mn satellite Bangabandhu-1.
But sources in the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) said this application created a conflict of interest with the USA, France, Russia, Australia and some Middle Eastern countries, and the BTRC has been informed about their disapproval.
If Bangladesh operates its satellite at 102 degree in orbit, the countries would have to face attenuation of their signal transmission for overlapping frequency range in orbit, they added.
If Bangladesh does not get a slot at 102 degree, it will try to get a slot at 69 degree as per a feasibility study. However, this alternative has created another conflict of interest of the same sort with China, Malaysia and Singapore.
A senior official of the BTRC said, as Bangladesh is currently one of the 24 council members of ITU, it will try to use its council power to secure a slot at 102 degree in orbit. Bangladesh will also try to persuade the ITU through its America-based consultancy, Space Partnership International (SPI), to secure the slot.
On March 29, the BTRC signed a 825mn taka consultancy deal with the SPI.
According to the deal, the firm will hire a manufacturing company to build and launch the satellite in orbit in the next three years.
Dr Satyaprasad Majumdar, professor of telecommunication engineering at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, said the country has asked for the slot at 102 degree to reduce its launching costs. Also, it will provide better coverage over a broader geographical area, he added.

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