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No-nonsense space mission of Afghanistan

Afghan SatelliteThink twice before you make fun out of them. Mr. Karzai may have flunked in the exam of a “credible” election. But he has passed with distinction while shaping the future of his country’s connectivity. Afghanistan is leasing out 500 MHz of duplex Ku-band satellite frequency for 15 years. Floor price of this auction to park the constellation at its Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) is US$ 65 million.

Unlike many developing/underdeveloped countries, Afghanistan has wisely avoided blending mindless nationalism with its space program. Each country is the legitimate owner of the orbit in space above respective territory. It has to be secured through ITU. Afghanistan has, evidently, done that.

Launching satellites is expensive and insurance eats up huge chunk of the total budget. Life of a GEO satellite varies between 12 to 15 years. Therefore, a viable business case is mandatory before launching a satellite. Afghanistan cannot consume entire bandwidth of a satellite. It also lacks the capacity to compete in the international bandwidth market.

Therefore, the country has decided to lease its orbit. It is no different than leasing a piece of land to the property developer. Once launched, the GEO satellite will cover the landlocked mountainous terrain of Afghanistan. Besides standard applications, cellular mobile coverage will be immediately extended to the country’s remotest corners using satellite backhaul.

Coverage of the Afghan Ku-band satellite may be also extended to the neighboring Tajikistan, Kirghizstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. If Iran and Pakistan can compromise their vanity, the Afghan “bird” may also connect their terrains. Good luck to Afghanistan!


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