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Venezuela and Uruguay plan to have their own communications satellite
Venezuela and Uruguay plan to have their own communications satellite in space by the end of 2008, Mexican media reported.

Under an agreement signed in November 2005, the China Great Wall Industry Corp was contracted to design, manufacture, test and put into orbit the VENESAT-1 for Venezuela. Uruguay later joined the $241-million project, financing 10% of its cost.

"The satellite will be put into orbit by a Chinese carrier rocket and the launch is scheduled for late September-early November," newspapers quoted Hector Navarro, the Venezuelan science minister, as saying.

The satellite, designed to have a service life of 15 years, will be launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in Southwest China atop a CZ-3B rocket, various sources reported.

China is also helping Venezuela to build several satellite monitoring stations on the territory of the Latin American country.

Venezuelan Defense Minister Rangel Briceno told reporters at the same news conference that the satellite would be used strictly for civilian purposes to help Venezuela and Uruguay develop their telecommunications industries.

The spacecraft is also called the "Simon Bolivar Satellite," named after the South American revolutionary.

Oil-rich Venezuela has strengthened ties with China since leftist President Hugo Chavez came to power in 1999 and launched what he calls his "Bolivarian" social revolution.


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