The launch of Bangabandhu satellite is a welcome development considering Bangladesh’s economic potential and at the same time an adverse comment on spacefaring India.
The world over, the trend of developing countries utilizing space services for economic development is growing. Bangladesh signed satellite contract with a French space company in 2015, years before India launched the South Asia Satellite.
India offered its assistance for launching Bangabandhu, but it could not match Bangladesh’s requirements. The satellite weighs 3,500 kg, which is beyond the launch capacity of India. The GSLV Mk III capable of launching 4,000 kg to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) was first launched in 2017 while GSLV Mk II, with a chequered flight record, is capable of launching only 2,500 kg to that orbit. On the other hand, Bangladesh is assured of a stand-by launch (SpaceX Falcon 9) in case the primary launcher Ariane 5 is not available. Interestingly, India is also still dependent on Ariane 5, the GSAT-11 for example.
The unavailability of a credible launcher also led to India missing a high profile business opportunity as Bangladesh acquired a $250 million loan from France for the satellite project. The satellite loans issued by US or China show that the launch contract usually are awarded to the creditor country.
Bangladesh intends to lease some of the spectrum to its neighbours. And with the Sri Lankan space company now aiming to become a South Asian regional hub. But India is still dependent on foreign satellites for its domestic requirements. And is now facing stiffer competition for satellite services in its own backyard.