First SpaceX Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket lobs comms sat into orbit

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"The Bangabandhu satellite will help to make Bangladesh an advanced country", Shahjahan Mahmood, chairman of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, which will manage the satellite, told the Dhaka Tribune.

Hawthorne-based SpaceX launched a newly upgraded Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida Friday, carrying a Bangladesh communications satellite toward orbit, then landed the rocket's first stage on a barge in the Atlantic Ocean for its 25th successful rocket recovery.

As the deployment of Bangabandhu Satellite-1 to geostationary transfer orbit was confirmed, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, "In the continuous advancement of Bangladesh another milestone is added today".

A Bangladesh delegation, led by Prime Minister's ICT Affairs Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy witnessed the moment of launching the satellite.

In November 2015, Bangladesh signed a 19.51 billion taka ($248 million) deal with French firm Thales Alenia Space for the satellite project.

"The Bangabandhu Satellite-1 will certainly bring revolutionary changes in our broadcast and telecommunications sector".

Bangabandhu-1, named after the nickname of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, founding father of Bangladesh, was launched into its orbital slot on 119.1 degrees east longitude.

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Ku-band will cover Bangladesh and its territorial area of the Bay of Bengal, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Falcon 9 Full Thrust (also known as Falcon 9 v1.2, with Block 3, Block 4 and Block 5 variants) is a partially reusable medium-lift launch vehicle, designed and manufactured by SpaceX.

Dr Shahjahan said after completing and traveling several processes, few more days will be required to tame the satellite at its Gazipur's Joydebpur and Rangamati's Betbunia ground stations. Later, on March 29, the satellite was shifted to Florida.

Bangladesh is now the 57th nation in the world and the fourth in South Asia to own a communication satellite. The mission of Bangabandhu Satellite1 is expected to last at least 15 years. On the other hand, Bangladesh can earn foreign currency by renting the Bangabandhu-1 transponders to other countries.

The Block 5 design changes are principally driven by upgrades needed for United States government Commercial Crew program and National Security Space Launch requirements.

In September 2016, Bangladesh signed a 14-billion-taka (about 180 million USA dollars) loan agreement with the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) to finance the country's first-ever satellite "Bangabandhu-I".

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