Pan-African satellite, RASCOM-1, finally goes into orbit

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The first Pan-African direct telecommunications and television satellite, RASCOM-1, which had experienced some problems shortly after its launch by the Ariane rocket 22 December 2007 in Kourou, in French Guiana, was finally put into orbit Monday, according to the manufacturers. “RASCOM-1 has been placed into its orbit at 36,000 km of altitude in the Equator plan, vertical to the Gulf of Guinea,” Thalès Alenia Space said in a statement made available to PANA here. According to the Thalès engineers, following a leak in the fuel tank pressurisation system, “it took about four weeks to move progressively to rescue RASCOM-1 thanks, to the secondary engines usually used to fine tune the position of the satellite.”

However, the rescue of RASCOM-1 had some consequences on the lifespan of this first Pan-African direct telecommunication and television satellite. “Initially scheduled to last 15 years, RASCOM-1, which is due to relay various telecommunication services such as direct television or Internet links for several African countries, and international links from that geostationary position, will last a bit over two years,” Thalès Alenia Space said in the statement. RASCOM-1 was launched to bridge the digital gap between Africa and the West, after the launch agreement was signed in March 2005 by 45 African countries.

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