Funny Mistake – no hope of recovering Nigerian NigComSat

This is the conclusion of the funny but sad news, that our one and only Satellite, NIGCOMSAT-1 has gone AWOL:

read on

Agency dashes hope of recovering ‘missing’ satellite
By Sonny Aragba-Akpore

THE Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NigComSat) may have foreclosed the recovery of the parked NigComSat-1 satellite powered down eight days ago as a result of solar panel power shut-out.

The Guardian learnt that preparatory to the eventual shut-down of the satellite, the power supply to the system had dropped from 42 amps to 33 and hit 18 amps by Monday night, a situation which may have created bigger problems for NigComSat and its owners, the Federal Government, if it was not powered down.

The Guardian learnt that the Chinese contractor, China Great Wall Industry Corporation, was yet to handover the management of the satellite to NigComSat, and that the proper handover was due on May 13, 2009. The Chinese had entered into an agreement for 15 years technical back-up, which began on May 14, 2007 when the satellite was launched.

The Guardian also learnt that if the system was not powered down, the insurers would have denied any culpability for what could have amounted to negligence on the side of Nigeria and the managers of the system.

Eight days after, the chances of recovering the satellite are very slim, managing director of the company, Mr. Ahmed Rufai, confirmed to The Guardian yesterday.

Rufai said although the contractors to the project, China Great Wall Industry Corporation, are yet to make any categorical statement on the potential for recovery, ” from our observatory here in Abuja, the chances are slim.”

NigComSat-1 thus joins the long list of satellites that disappeared and parked in the orbit since January this year.

There are 19 altogether and NigComSat-1 is the 18th. Because its safe mode power failure occurred the same day, November 10, that Orbcomm satellite had its problems announced to the global community.

NigComSat-1 was launched on May 14, 2007 from Xichang Satellite centre in Sichuan province.

The cost for the satellite, space craft and ground stations in Abuja and China was $256 million out of which the Chinese government underwrote $200 million while the Federal Government contributed $56 million. The satellite itself was accepted as collateral.

The underwriting company was Munich Cray of Germany and 25 other multinational re-insurers in Russia, France and China at a cost of ?116 million.

Zenith Insurance, leading a consortium of Nigerian re-insurers, underwrote 10 per cent of the cost.

Rufai said besides the $200 million seed money which the Chinese government contributed, another loan of $500 million was ready for grabs by NigComSat for the launch of NigComSat-2 and NigComSat-3.

He explained that the Chinese government granted the loan to be repaid in 20 years at the interest rate of 2.5 per cent yearly with a five-year moratorium.

“So, with the insurance coverage for NigComSat-1, the government of China is ready to replace the NigComSat-1 and still build NigComSat-2 and 3 at no extra cost to Nigeria,” he said.

According to him, the mistake made in NigComSat-1 was principally because there was no back-up power. “It was taken for granted,” he explained but in subsequent ones, that will be taken into very serious consideration.”

As an interim measure, Rufai said NigComSat was now ready to migrate its customers to other leased satellite pending when a new satellite would be put in place.

He said that his company was ready to lease four or five transponders (satellite circuits) to enable its customers return to business.

Organisations affected include National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Zenith Bank, Intercontinental Bank, Skye Bank, Diamond Bank, Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), Visafone, Etisalat and some security outfits such as PC4 and CIT.

“All of them are being migrated gradually,” Rufai explained.

He said with his preliminary talks with the Chinese, they were willing to grant NigComSat access to some temporary satellite covering Nigeria as a stop gap pending when a new satellite is put in place.

He said that the Chinese “have also agreed to re-build NigComSat-1 at no extra cost to Nigeria and they will do this even before the insurers pay the money insured and this could take a while.”

Newskies Satellite operating on Astra 2B platform has also offered NigComSat transponders to remedy the situation.

While admitting that businesses connected to NigComSat-1 may have incurred severe losses, Rufai said NigComSat was willing to go beyond the contract it signed with them.

For instance, many of them signed a non-pre-emptive contract, which meant no liability to NigComSat “but because we need to be in business we should be able to reconnect as quickly as possible.”

NigComSat-1 stopped functioning on Monday, November 10, 2008.

Spokesperson to Great Wall Industry Corporation, the contractors to the project, Ku Geng, said that “the solar wing malfunctioned, which led to exhaustion of electric power and then the satellite failed.”

“Most satellites carry solar panels on an extendable wing to generate electricity, with back-up batteries activated only when in the Earth’s shadows,” he explained.

source: click here

Is it not funny that a Satellite which is still a collateral as far as Nigeria and China are concerned is already missing just about 1-year after its launch? Can the reverse happen and someone won’t be held responsible

Does it not also sound funny? a funny mistake it is that all the NigComSat-1 Nigerian stakeholders and ‘expected gurus’ embarked on a mission to launch a satellite into space and none of them thought of backup power?, considering that electrical power is a major demon in the country. Shouldn’t they have thought about it even by mistake? If the NigComSat-1 was the only satellite alternative available to the whole of Nigeria for both internet and GSM access, is this not how our ‘technical leaders’ will throw the nation into a technical blackout?

What now happens to the Nigerian engineers trained in China? what will be their job description….at least until the lost satellite is replaced?


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