Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Thai satellite gets new chance at launch

Thailand's Theos satellite has another chance to get into orbit now Russia has negotiated a deal with Kazakhstan to take rocket waste discharged during the launch process.

The launch is now expected by September.

Theos _ short for Thailand Earth Observation System _ will be Thailand's first natural resources survey satellite. Its launch has been delayed since early this year because Uzbekistan opposed receiving the rocket-waste discharge, which is released as the satellite is launched.

''We just received good news from France on Friday. They told me that Russia talked to Kazakhstan. What we have to do is prepare the launch campaign, which takes around eight weeks,'' said Thongchai Charuppat, director of Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency.

''When it gets into orbit, we will have achieved significant success,'' he said.

Although the bed site for the waste discharge has now changed, the launch base is still in Yahni of Russia.

The remote sensing satellite project was started by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2005.

The government signed a contract with EADS Astrium company from France worth 6.2 billion baht to build the remote sensing satellite to survey natural resources. According to the contract, the company was to have launched the satellite into orbit by November last year.

Mr Thongchai said he was confident no further technical problems should arise to delay the process.

''Please be assured that we do not have to pay more. The French company has to take responsibility for the delay. In case of an explosion, the company will also take responsibility,'' he said.

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