The Angolan geostationary telecommunications satellite (AngoSat-2), under construction by Airbus Defense and Space, will enter orbit within 17 months, as announced this Friday in Luanda, the general director of the National Space Program Management Office (GGPEN), Zolana João.
According to the director, Angosat-2 is more than 60 per cent complete and is expected to launch in the first half of 2022. With a total weight of 1814kg, he said, Angosat-2 will also be a High Transmission Rate (HTS) satellite and will provide 13 gigabytes in each illuminated region (satellite signal range). The satellite will be based on the Eurostar-3000 platform and its design lifespan will be 15 years. The construction of this new satellite did not bring any cost to the Angolan State, due to the fact that the contract of more than USD 300 million, initiated with the Russian side, for the construction of Angosat-1, protected the interests of Angola, in case of disappearance or destruction of the satellite.
AngoSat-1 was built by the Russian company RSC Energia and was supposed to be operated by Infrasat. The satellite was based on the USP Bus platform and its design lifespan was 15 years. The contract was signed by the Russian and Angolan parties in 2009. In the following years, both parties worked together to organize the financing of the project, which made it possible to proceed with its practical application.
Work on the satellite began in late 2012. The Angosat-1 satellite was successfully launched into space on 26 December 2017, at 19:00 UTC, using a Zenit-3F / Fregat-SB vehicle from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. There was a primary loss of contact as soon as the satellite entered orbit, communications were recovered and soon lost again.
The investment in space technology will contribute to the unification of Africa and the development of the continent said the Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Information Technologies, Mário Augusto Oliveira, during the webinar tagged, “ANGOSAT-2: economic benefits for improving people’s lives ”.
“We want to have a strong national space industry that serves the interests of our economy and brings benefits, not only for Angola but as a way to create synergies in our region while fostering the establishment of a united Africa”, he said.
Oliveira also explained that the National Space Program (PEN) is based on five pillars, namely: the development of space infrastructure; capacity building and training of staff; investment in industry and space technology; the geostrategic positioning in this industry and the organization and cooperation.
During his presentation, the Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Information Technologies also spoke about the impact of covid-19 on world economies and how investment in digital technology has been decisive for countries to maintain their operations.
“The new normal goes through digital literacy. Digital literacy has allowed us to have as normal a life as possible”, he said and stressed that Angola has only “managed to survive due to everything that has been done so far in the area of information and communication technologies”.
The National Director for Telecommunications and Information Technologies, Matias Manuel Borges, during the panel, said that “satellites end up being fundamental for the improvement of electronic communication services, governance, health and education. All these services will improve at the national level with the launch of ANGOSAT-2 ”.
Seven times faster
The General Director of the National Space Program Management Office (GGPEN), Zolana João, mentioned during the webinar, that ANGOSAT-2 will be seven times faster than its predecessor. “ANGOSAT-1 was conceived as a conventional satellite, with a wide communication beam, regardless of location. With that, we had some limitations, starting with the bandwidth. This will be seven times faster, with high transmission rates and we can transmit intelligently in smaller beams and to specific regions ”, he explained.
With this, it is intended to minimize the problem of the digital divide, that is, to allow equal access to all Angolans to the benefits offered by Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). “2020 was one of the most complicated years for the space industry. We had to reinvent ourselves to ensure that our satellite was delivered in a timely manner. We continue to identify risks, we try to be cautious and we are 17 months from the launch of ANGOSAT-2 “, he added.
To operate the satellite, GGPEN has a team of seventy members, of whom twenty are masters and four doctors, who work at the Satellite Control and Mission Center (MCC), in Funda, Luanda.
“In addition to certified technicians, we formed a group of engineers that deserve some mention. Two engineers were among the top ten under 30 class of 2020 in the African space industry and another was chosen to participate in a drone training program, ”he said.
Transmitted through the digital platforms (Facebook and Youtube) of the Aníbal de Melo Press Center (CIAM), the webinar “ANGOSAT-2: economic benefits for the improvement of people’s lives” aimed to share the current evolution of the project, the challenges, the opportunities and the benefits of the National Space Program for the improvement of the lives of the populations.
David is a space industry and technology analyst at Space in Africa. He’s a graduate of Mining Engineering from the Federal University of Technology Akure.