Venezuela sends satellite to join space club nations

By Prensa Latina,

Caracas : Venezuela has joined the space club nations by launching its first satellite, built with Chinese technology, into orbit successfully earlier this week.

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Named after Simon Bolivar, the hero of South American independence, the communications satellite Venesat-1 was launched from China Wednesday.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who monitored the launch along with his fellow leftist Bolivian President Evo Morales from the eastern town of Luepa, described it as a “construction of socialism” and a “symbol of Latin American integration”.

He praised the operation as an example of socialist virtues and said: “A capitalist business launches a satellite to make money. This is an act of freedom and independence.”

He also thanked the Uruguayan government for the cession of the space orbit to locate the satellite.

Morales congratulated his Venezuelan counterpart for the successful launch of the satellite and said it would guarantee the sovereignty in telecommunications in the region.

“The business of telecommunications won’t be private anymore; it will no longer be for the exploitation of our peoples. Now the satellite will give us that human right,” the Bolivian leader said.

The Simon Bolivar, the construction of which began in 2002, cost Venezuela $241 million, along with $165 million for two communication headquarters. The satellite will orbit the Earth at 36,000 km.

Some 90 professionals and aerospace specialties from the South American country joined dozens of Chinese scientists to construct the satellite over a period of six years.

The signal from the 5.1 tonne satellite, which will be fully operational by January 2009, will benefit other Latin American countries like Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Uruguay and others, helping scientific independence, culture and technology.

Chavez said that now Venezuela will save millions of dollars a year in this field.

Venezuela intends to launch its second satellite, for its own use, in 2013, according to the technical manager of the Bolivarian Agency for Space Activities.