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Vietnam to launch first EO satellite in 2017

Hanoi, Vietnam: With Japanese aid, Vietnam will launch its first earth observation (EO) satellite in 2017 and second in 2020, according to Shohei Matsuura, senior advisor with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Hanoi, Vietnam. Japanese experts are helping Vietnam in a bid to help the South-East Asian country minimise adverse impact of climate change and natural disasters.
Last November, Japan announced that it will provide a 40-year loan of about USD 93 million (7.2 billion Japanese Yen) to Vietnam for equipment and capacity development connected to the bilateral satellite initiative.  
Matsuura explained that the satellites will track data that will provide background information for future industrial development and land-use planning, as well as support Vietnam’s national efforts to prepare for climate change and natural disasters.
Last year, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand were ravaged by heavy flooding that claimed hundreds of lives and caused millions of dollars in damages. Vietnam is believed to be one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. It experiences heavy rainfall and has a low-lying coastline. Nearly four in five Vietnamese people live within 100 kilometres of the coast, and natural disasters kill more than 450 people each year, the UN said.
The satellites are just one component of Vietnam’s preparation to become a regional leader in space technology. State media reported in November that a National Space Centre will be built outside Hanoi, at a cost of more than USD 600 million, with the goal of providing a research facility for communications, weather forecasting and search and rescue activities.
The United States has also expressed an interest in helping Vietnam to develop its space programme. In December, Michael O’Brien, associate administrator for international and interagency relations for the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), visited Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the first senior NASA official to have done so.
During his visit, O’Brien signed a statement of intent with Vietnamese officials affirming “strong bilateral interest in cooperation on space-based research, including Earth science, weather research, remote sensing, and educational activities”, according to the US Embassy in Vietnam.
Source: www.scidev.net