Foreign and Military Affairs

China moves to help Bolivia launch satellite

Updated: 2011-08-11 07:49

By An Baijie (China Daily)

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BEIJING - China and Bolivia took further steps on Wednesday toward launching a telecommunications satellite for the South American country.

Speaking in Beijing that day, Ivan Zambrana, executive general director of the Bolivian Space Agency, told China Daily that China will provide Bolivia with a group of services related to a telecom satellite. Those will include help in building and launching the satellite; in building a monitoring station and in training Bolivian workers to operate the device. The services will cost the Bolivian government about $294 million.

"If we had signed satellite contracts with developed Western countries, it would have cost at least $350 million for the whole project," Zambrana said.

On Dec 13, 2010, the China Great Wall Industry Corp, the country's sole commercial organization selling satellites and commercial launch services, signed a contract for a satellite project with the Bolivian government. To help Bolivia pay for the work, China Development Bank has agreed to give the country a loan.

The project is being carried out by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, a State-owned enterprise group that is the administrative body of China Great Wall Industrial. Among the company's well-known products are Long March rockets and Shenzhou spaceships.

"China provides one-stop service for the satellite project, which brings much convenience to Bolivia because we don't have to sign many contracts with different companies," Zambrana said.

He said unlike many Western companies, which would seek to keep aerospace technology secret, China plans to teach Bolivian workers how to build air stations and to take advantage of solar and wind power.

Bolivian President Juan Evo Morales Ayma said at the ceremony on Wednesday that the satellite will allow Bolivian citizens, especially those living in mountainous regions, to enjoy the benefits of telecommunications.

Ma Xingrui, president of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, said the satellite will promote the Bolivian government's ability to communicate during emergencies and for defense purposes.

Recent years have seen China Great Wall sign two contracts with the Nigerian government for telecom satellites. The company also built Venezuela's Venesat-1 spacecraft and is making the governments of Laos and Pakistan a satellite each.

Zhao Xiaojin, head of the aerospace department at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, said China will help developing countries build up their aerospace industries.

"We encourage and help the countries to start their satellite industries from small-scale satellites," Zhao said. "We will provide not only service related to satellite manufacturing and launching, but also personnel training and transfers of technology, which will help the countries build up their own satellite industries."

Zambrana told China Daily that China plans to help Bolivia launch a second satellite in the next three years.

"It will be a remote-sensing satellite that runs in a low orbit, which could be used for civilian services such as detecting minerals and oil, forecasting natural disasters, and so on," Zambrana said.


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