Mérida, August 18, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)– Venezuela’s first satellite will be launched from Chinese soil on November 1st, President Hugo Chávez announced on his weekly Sunday talk show Aló Presidente, which was broadcast from the satellite control station located at an air base on the vast plains of the state of Guárico, Venezuela.
The satellite is the materialization of the technology transfer agreement initiated by Venezuela and China in 2004, which Chávez said is an example of South-South cooperation.
“Venezuela's Simón Bolívar Satellite, with the incomparable help of sister China, will soon be launched. November 1st, that is the date,” said Chávez, who was accompanied by Chinese Embassador to Venezuela Zhang Tuo.
The satellite, which is named after South American independence leader Simón Bolívar, will serve primarily civilian telecommunications purposes, according to Venezuelan Telecommunications Minister Socorro Hernández.
“It is a fundamental tool for technological sovereignty that will be put at the service of the population,” said Hernández, who also accompanied Chávez Sunday.
According to the minister, the satellite will help improve the quality and geographical reach of government social programs through televised health and educational services.
The satellite will also serve the needs of the social organizations and communities, with social ends in mind, Chávez emphasized.
The Venezuelan Communications and Information Minister, Andrés Izarra, pointed out that entering the space community will boost Venezuela’s television industry. The “Aló, Presidente” presidential talk show is currently transmitted from a Dutch satellite, but “will now be offered with our own satellite,” he said.
The Venezuelan government contracted a Chinese firm to carry out the design, manufacture, and launching of the satellite, according to the Aló, Presidente website.
CANTV, Venezuela's National Telecommunications Company that was nationalized in early 2007, will manage the satellite’s telecommunications spectrum. The Science and Technology Ministry will administer the control center in Guárico state and the backup control station in southeastern Bolívar state.
Uruguay has agreed to open its orbit to Venezuela’s satellite in exchange for the use of 10% of the satellite’s telecommunications spectrum.
As part of the technology transfer agreement with China, a team of 150 Venezuelans were trained in space technology, along with 30 Venezuelan students who were selected to complete their doctoral studies in the subject in China.
“Venezuela is expanding, growing from all points of view,” Chávez boasted. He also announced his plans to travel to Beijing in the coming months to “give another boost to the strategic alliance between China and Venezuela.”
Venezuela’s relations with China already include contracts for the joint extraction of Venezuelan crude oil and gas, construction of Venezuela’s railroad system, a credit line for Venezuela to purchase Chinese agricultural equipment, and a joint development fund constituted with $6 billion in capital, $4 billion of which came from China, among other agreements.