According to the state minister for ICT, Junaid Ahmed Palak, the ground stations situated in Gazipur and Betbunia have received test signals from Bangladesh’ first ever satellite, the Bangabandhu Satellite -1. The signal was received at 4.25 AM local time, on the 12th of May.
The payload attached to the Falcon 9 was detached to its geostationary orbit 33 minutes after launching from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Within 3 minutes of that the satellite had been successfully deployed, Palak noted. It has been reported that the European built satellite will settle into its orbital slot after 11 days.
The first 36 minutes of the launch of the Falcon 9, the vehicle that took the BS-1 to space, was observed by a contingent of Bangladeshis. Lead by the Prime Minister’s ICT adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy, the Bangladeshis watched on from the KSC visitor’s area. Besides Wazed and Palak, the contingent was led by the state minister for information, Taran Halim. They were accompanied by junior officers, family members and a number of non-resident Bangladeshis who live around Florida and the rest of North America. Everyone came together on the day to mark a proud achievement for the nation.
The satellite is expected to be operated by its makers, Thales Alenia Space, for the first year of its operation. During this time, Bangladeshis will be trained to take control of the satellite. They will take full control of the satellite by the third year of operation. The satellite is expected to have a lifespan of 15 years, during which time Bangladesh will share the satellite with a multitude of different SAARC countries to cover for its initial costs.
The Bangabandhu-1 is a first of its kind. Bangladesh has had satellites up before, but not one that was uniquely its own. Until now the country has had to share satellite bandwidth by renting it from various other countries. It will no longer be the case as the satellite becomes operational for commercial use by next week. Bangladesh is currently paying 14 million USD per year renting foreign satellites for VSAT and DTH services. Now, with the Bangabandhu-1 Bangladeshi’s can have uninterrupted television broadcast and smooth, cheap international communication. Not to mention that this will also be a great source of revenue for the government as 50 transponders are already planned to be rented out to Nepal, Bhutan, Philippines. Indonesia and other countries for 50 million USD. The BS-1 will also provide many areas of the country with internet and VoIP where it was previously very difficult to do so.
The Bangabandhu-1 is a national achievement that all Bangladeshis are, and should, be proud of. Yet it is only the first step. Thecountry has only now reached space for the first time, more than half a century after the USA and Russia. Bangladesh’s entry into the space race may be late but no one said they can’t put a man on the moon in the near future.