Bangabandhu-1 successfully launched via SpaceX’s Falcon 9

Bangabandhu-1. Image courtesy of Thales Alenia.

On Friday, May 11th at 4:14 p.m. EDT, SpaceX successfully launched Bangabandhu Satellite-1 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, according to SpaceX’s press release. Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage successfully landed on “Of Course I Still Love You,” SpaceX’s droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

Falcon 9 delivered Bangabandhu Satellite-1 to a geostationary transfer orbit and the spacecraft was deployed approximately 33 minutes after liftoff. The Bangabandhu Satellite-1 mission served as the first flight of Falcon 9 Block 5, the final substantial upgrade to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle. Falcon 9 Block 5 is designed to be capable of “10 or more flights with very limited refurbishment”, according to SpaceX.

Payload

Bangabandhu Satellite-1 is Bangladesh’s first geostationary communications satellite with a design mass of approximately 3,600kg. Development of the satellite program, known as the “Bangabandhu Satellite Launching Project,” was managed by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) with technical support from Space Partnership International (SPI).

The satellite, which is comprised of 26 Ku-band and 14 C-band transponders, was manufactured by Thales Alenia Space on the Spacebus 4000B2 platform and will be
operated by the Bangladesh Communication Satellite Company Limited (BCSCL).

Bangabandhu Satellite-1 has a primary service area encompassing Bangladesh and the surrounding region. The satellite will offer Ku-band coverage over Bangladesh and its territorial waters in the Bay of Bengal, as well as India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Indonesia. It will also provide C-band capacity for the entire region.

Located at 119.1° East, Bangabandhu Satellite-1 will provide direct-to-home (DTH) services, video distribution and very small aperture terminal (VSAT) communications across Bangladesh. The satellite will also provide broadband connectivity to rural areas throughout the country, and will be important in delivering telemedicine and e-learning to remote parts of the country. Bangabandhu Satellite1’s mission is expected to last at least 15 years.

Thales Alenia Space is prime contractor for the turnkey system, in charge of the design, construction, testing and in-orbit delivery of the satellite.

Thales Alenia Space is also responsible for a complete ground segment, which capitalizes on SpaceOps applications, dedicated to mission configuration/monitoring and on Thales Alena Space’s SpaceGate comprehensive solution dedicated to end users applications. The ground segment relies on both primary and the secondary ground facilities including a building that houses the satellite operation and control center and network operations center. The company’s local partner in Bangladesh, Spectra Engineers Ltd, is in charge of civil engineering works for the ground infrastructures. The two ground stations that can simultaneously be used for navigation have been built at Gazipur and Betbunia.

The Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina Wazed, thanked all the countries and companies involved in making the satellite a success, as well as “Russia for leasing its orbital slot to Bangladesh”. She recalled how the Founding Father of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, had within three years of independence, “established the first Satellite Earth-Station at Betbunia, Rangamati in 1974.”

Bangabandhu Satellite-1 system is aimed to provide:
  • Direct To Home (DTH) : service consisting of multiplexed digital television, radio and associated data direct to very small antennas.
  • Video Distribution : multiplexed digital television, radio and associated data services to medium-sized antennas
  • VSAT Private Networks : shall support private networks consisting of voice, data, video and Internet services, to banks, gas stations, etc. with medium-sized antennas.
  • Broadband : service that allows the end-user (individual, organization, corporation or Government) to remotely access the Internet at high speed with high quality of service.
  • Communications Trunks : wide band high data rate point-to-point services

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