A Chinese rocket carried the first communications satellite for Belarus into orbit Friday, recording a success in the first space launch this year.
The Belintersat 1 telecom craft lifted off at 1657 GMT (11:57 a.m. EST) aboard a Long March 3B rocket from the Xichang space center in southwestern China’s Sichuan province, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.
Owned by the government of Belarus, Belintersat 1’s C-band and Ku-band transponders will broadcast television and radio programming, support corporate networking, and provide broadband Internet connectivity.
The Belarusian government set up the Belintersat project to give the nation’s broadcasters access to international markets and sell the satellite’s excess capacity to commercial users, officials said.
Belintersat finalized the contract for construction of the satellite based on the China Academy of Space Technology’s DFH-4 spacecraft bus in 2012, according to the project’s website. Thales Alenia Space of France supplied Belintersat 1’s communications payload.
The project received financing from the Export-Import Bank of China, according to Belintersat’s website.
The Long March 3B rocket deployed Belintersat 1 into an elliptical geostationary transfer orbit shortly after liftoff. The satellite’s on-board propulsion system will circularize its orbit nearly 36,000 miles — about 22,300 miles — over the equator in the next few weeks.
Belintersat said Friday all systems on the new spacecraft are functioning normally.
The satellite’s operating position will be at 51.5 degrees east longitude, a slot that gives Belintersat 1’s antennas coverage over Europe, Africa and Asia.
Ten of Belintersat 1’s 38 transponders have been reserved, according to the project’s website. The government of Belarus has rights to two transponders, and Chinese companies booked the use of eight more.
Belintersat 1 is designed for a 15-year mission.
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