Chinese Long March 3B launches Algeria’s first telecom satellite

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PRINCETON, New Jersey — China Great Wall Industry Corp. launched Algeria’s first telecommunications satellite, Alcomsat-1, aboard a Long March 3B rocket at 11:40 a.m. Eastern to geostationary transfer orbit, the Algerian press agency APS said today.

The 5,225-kilogram satellite carries a 33-transponder payload comprised of 19 in Ku-band, 12 in Ka-band and two in L-band, according to a statement from China Great Wall Industry Corp. (CGWIC).

Similar to China’s other foreign satellite deals, CGWIC built the satellite and provided the launch vehicle, sidestepping manufacturing and rocket restrictions tied to U.S. components, which are in most other commercial telecom satellites. U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR, prevent U.S.-built satellites and those with certain U.S. components from launching on Chinese rockets, blocking most non-Chinese satellites from launching on Chinese rockets.

Another similarity to previous CGWIC deals: Alcomsat-1 is the buyer’s first telecommunications satellite. The Algerian Space Agency (ASAL) will operate Alcomsat-1, which has a design life of 15 years.

In the past three years, CGWIC has built and launched telecommunications satellites for Belarus, Laos and Bolivia. Over the past 14 months, the company won two commercial orders, one with Thaicom and one for an Indonesian joint venture, showing newfound traction with established fleet operators.

Chinese satellite operator China Satcom assisted with the Alcomsat-1 program, including frequency coordination, defining the system and gauging user needs. Alcomsat-1 will support television broadcasting as well as broadband communications for remote education, e-government, and other services.

CGWIC said the launch represented a “good beginning of space cooperation,” between China and Algeria, and that “more space programs are expected to be initiated soon.”