HANOI (AFP) – Vietnam blasted into the satellite age on Saturday when a rocket launch from South America propelled its first orbiter into space, allowing it to beam home telecoms data and television signals.
From a command centre set amid lush rice fields outside the capital Hanoi, scientists tracked the Arianespace rocket as it propelled the Vinasat-1 on its path to hover 36,000 kilometres (22,000 miles) above the equator.
An Ariane 5 rocket ready for its second mission of 2008 at Kourou Spaceport, clearing the way for a final countdown to its liftoff on April 19, 2008 with telecommunications satellites, including one for communist Vietnam.(AFP/HO)
“This project is politically, economically and socially important,” said Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, soon after the launch, noting that it would help to “raise Vietnam’s image on the international stage.”
The blast-off may only have been a small step for the European space agency in French Guiana, but it represents one great leap for communist Vietnam, a developing country with patchy phone coverage that only introduced the Internet a decade ago.
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Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung addresses a ceremony held in Hanoi, on April 19, to mark the launch of Vietnam’s first satellite. With a rocket launch from South America, Vietnam blasted itself into the satellite age, putting into space its first orbiter that will beam home telecom data and TV signals.(AFP/Hoang Dinh Nam)