Thursday, 28 October, 2021

Launching of Bangabandhu Satellite-1 and Benefits

Dr. SM Jahangir Alam

Bangabandhu Satellite-1 is the first terrestrial communication and broadcasting satellite of Bangladesh. It was launched from the Kennedy Space Center on May 11, 2018. Through this, Bangladesh was added as the 57th country to launch its own satellite. The project was implemented by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission under the Department of Posts and Telecommunications and was the first parody launch of a Falcon-9 Block-5.

In the year of 2008 the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (BTRC) formed a committee on the construction of artificial satellites. Then in 2009 the issue of launching state-owned artificial satellites was added to the National Information Technology Policy. Bangladesh made an electronic request to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to launch its own artificial satellite. In March 2012, the US-based Space Partnership International was hired as the project's lead consultant to design the artificial satellite system. BTRC has signed an agreement with French company Thales Alenia Space worth of Tk. 1 thousand 951 crore 75 lakh 34 thousand taka to buy the satellite system. BTRC signed an agreement to buy an orbital slot from the Russian satellite company Intersputnik in 2015. An organization called 'Bangladesh Communication Satellite Company Limited' was formed in 2017 for the overall management of artificial satellites. Tk 5,000 crore was sanctioned as the initial capital the company. Tk 2,968 crore was allocated at the ECNEC meeting in September 2014 for the operation of Bangladesh Broadcasting and Telecommunication Services through the launching of artificial satellites.

Among this Tk 1,315.51 crore was allocated from Bangladesh government’s own funds, which is about 44% of the total expenditure. Besides, a plan has been taken to collect Tk 1,652.44 crore for this project through Bidders Financing. In September 2016, the Government of Bangladesh signed a loan agreement with Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) worth about Tk 1,400 crore. This amount has to be paid in 20 instalments in 12 years with interest at the rate of 1.51%. Orbital slot approval was obtained in December 2014 from the Russian company Intersputnik. Its value is 218 crore 96 lakh Taka.

The Bangabandhu-1 artificial satellite is placed in the geostationary slot at 119.1 degrees east longitude. It was named after the name of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. It was designed by Thales Alenia Space of France. And it was launched from the US privately owned spacecraft SpaceX.

Bangabandhu Satellite-1 is carrying a total of 40 KU and C-brand transponders with a capacity of 1600 MHz and its lifespan is supposed to be 15 years. Bangladesh and Bangabandhu-1 are written in English on the colour design of the red-green flag of Bangladesh in the part of the satellite bait. There is a monogram of the government of Bangladesh.

The Bangabandhu Satellite-1 satellite is being controlled from the ground station of Bangladesh after its full launch. For this purpose, ground stations have been set up at Joydevpur in Gazipur district and Betbunia in Rangamati district. The Joydebpur ground station is the main station. And Betbunia station has been backed up as a second station. In addition, two ground satellite stations have been set up in Indonesia and the Philippines. Different media organizations, not only in Bangladesh but also in other countries of the world, are currently using Bangabandhu-1 satellite rental transponders. Notable among them are 2 private TV channels of Honduras, 1 private TV channel of Turkey, 1 private TV channel of Philippines (some more contracted), 2 TV channels of Ghana (a few more are waiting), 1 private TV Channel of Cameroon and 2 online based TV Channels in South Africa. 

There are 3 types of facilities available from Bangabandhu Satellite-1. TV channels hire satellites to run their broadcasts properly. In this case, foreign exchange will be earned by selling the capacity of Bangabandhu-1 satellite. On the other hand, the country's TV channels are using it to keep the country's money in the country. The total frequency capacity of 40 transponders is 1,600 MHz. Using its bandwidth and frequency, internet facilities are being provided in deprived areas such as subsequent and haor areas. The Bangabandhu-1 satellite is also being used to expand internet and banking services, telemedicine and remote education in remote areas.


The writer is Director, Bangladesh Satellite Company Ltd