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Nigeria Looks to Move On from Nigcomsat-1 Failure with Nigcomsat-1R Launch

By | June 7, 2011

      [Satellite News 06-07-11] The Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria (ISPON) lauded the Nigerian Communications Satellite (Nigcomsat) program after completing an assessment of Nigcomsat’s satellite ground control station, DTH platform and research and development units.
         In a statement following the inspection, ISPON President Chris Uwaje said Nigcomsat could be a key factor in improving Nigeria’s economy and taking the country to an advanced level of technology.
         “After seeing Nigcomsat engineers at work, we are sure that Nigcomsat is doing good work and we are ready to tell the world the good work you and your team are doing,” Uwaje said in an address to press officials and the Nigcomsat team.
         Nigcomsat is trying to repair its image after its Nigcomsat-1 spacecraft, built by manufacturer China Great Wall Industry Corp. for $256 million, suffered power problems in its solar arrays and was declared a total loss 18 months after its launch.
         Following the incident, Nigcomsat Managing Director Timansaniyu Ahmed-Rufai testified before Nigeria’s House of Representatives’ Committee on Science and Technology that the spacecraft has been placed in a parking orbit and could not be recovered. Nigcomsat and Chinese officials then held a series of meetings to discuss how to remedy the losses of customers whose business depended on the NigComSat-1 satellite.
         The parties involved agreed to remedial solutions that will be in place until NigComSat-1 is rebuilt and NigComSat-2 and NigComSat-3 are put in place as back up satellites. Solutions included the lease of at least 10 transponders from another communications satellite for NigComSat customers and China providing the lead fund for the replacement of the NigComSat-1 and the subsequent launch of the two backup satellites. 
         According to Uwaje, ISPON came to Nigcomsat to support a Nigerian national advocacy initiative for the establishment, adoption and promotion of a national software strategic policy. Uwaje also confirmed Ahmed-Rufai’s claims that 90 percent of Nigcomsat’s work is software-based.
         “These include developing software for budget monitoring and tracking system for the Budget Office of the Federation, and an application for FCT Developmental Control for granting approvals and plans and archiving and retrieving information among other purposes,” said Ahmed-Rufai. “We also have a full solution for e-voting in Nigeria, adding that Nigcomsat has come up with a strategy, which has been applauded by the Federal Government called SWAT-500, whereby five million individuals will eventually be trained in software engineering. As we are doing this, we will create an outsourcing centre, which will definitely excite top software practitioners.”
         Nigcomsat Head of Engineering Abdulraheem Adajah assured that NigComSat-1R, the replacement for Nigcomsat-1, would be ready when it is scheduled to launch into the 42.5 degrees East orbital slot from Xichang Satellite Launch Center on an LM-3B/E launch vehicle in the fourth quarter of this year. “The new satellite has the same features with a few modifications. It will not suffer the same fate as Nigcomsat-1 as certain measures are being put in place.”
         The Nigerian Federal Ministry of Science and Technology contracted China Great Wall to provide in-orbit delivery of the NigComSat-1R satellite in March 2009. The satellite is based on the DFH-4 satellite platform developed by China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) and fitted with a total of 28 transponders (8 Ka-band, 14 Ku-band, 4 C-band and 2 L-band).

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