State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak has confirmed that following the successful deployment to geostationary orbit of the country’s first communications satellite, the Bangabandhu-1, local groundstations in Gazipur and Betbunia have successfully received initial test signals from it.
To deploy it in geostationary orbit, SpaceX separated Bangabandhu-1 from its second stage booster some 33 minutes after the spectacular launch in pristine conditions on the Florida coast on Friday afternoon.
Talking to UNB over phone from the launch site, Palak also confirmed the satellite had been successfully deployed at Bangladesh’s specified orbit slot “within 36 minutes” of the launch.
The test signals from the rocket were received by the groundstations in Gazipur and Betbunia after 6:25pm US Eastern Time (BST 4:25am).
He also said that it would take another 11 days for the satellite built to purpose by European aerospace company Thales Alenia Space, to settle into its orbital slot.
Palak further revealed that the prime minister’s adviser on Information and communication technology, Sajeeb Wazed Joy, along with his family had enjoyed the first 36 minutes (till deployment in orbit) of the launch at the head of a lively Bangladeshi contingent at the KSC visitors area, numbering around 200.
His daughter Sophia led the countdown to take off at the visitors area. Wife Kristine greeted her mother-in-law PM Hasina, who herself was up watching at her official residence Ganobhaban, through video conferencing at the end of the launch.
Bangabandhu-1 will be operated by its makers Thales Alenia Space for the first year, even as Bangladeshis are trained to take complete control from the 3rd year onwards. It is expected to have a lifespan of 15 years.
Besides Sajeeb Wazed and Zunaid Palak, a 30-member Bangladeshi contingent was led by State Minister for Information Tarana Halim – who during her spell at the ICT had set the ball rolling on Bangabandhu-1- MPs Kazi Feroz Rashid and Imran Ahmed, Bangladesh ambassador to USA M Ziauddin.
They were joined by other junior officials, family members and a good number of Bangladeshis from across North America, who all came together to share a proud moment for the country.