Buenos Aires: Argentina successfully launched its first domestically designed and developed geostationary communications satellite on Thursday, an event the government called "historic".
Seven years in development, the Arsat-1, manufactured by the state-run firm Invap in the southern city of Bariloche, was launched at 2144 GMT from the Kourou launch facility in French Guiana on board an Ariane 5 rocket.
The satellite separated from the rocket booster stage 33 minutes after launch and is being monitored by the ground control station in Benavidez. It is expected to reach its stationary orbital position some 36,000 km above the Earth in about 10 days.
The launch was observed live by Argentine Planning Minister Julio de Vido and France's minister of Education, Higher Education and Research, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, and it was broadcast live in Argentina by the Public Television channel.
Once the launch was deemed "successful" by Argentine space authorities, a very moved and tearful President Cristina Fernandez addressed the public live on national radio and television, saying that she took "great pride" in this "historic" event.
Arsat-1 weighs three tonnes and is designed to have a useful life in orbit of about 15 years. It will provide a wide variety of telecommunications services, including telephone lines, television and data transmission to Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay.
The satellite cost USD 270 million to design and build, with some 500 experts working on the design, production, testing and launch.