Measat-3b takes off after delays

Measat-3b takes off after delays
Finally off: The Ariane 5 ECA rocket, carrying the Measat-3b and Optus 10 spacecraft, being launched.

KUALA LUMPUR - The Measat-3b satellite was successfully launched at 6.05am (Malaysian time) after three brief delays and about 45 minutes behind schedule.

Measat Global Bhd's (MGB) sixth satellite was supposed to be launched at 5.21am (local time).

With a window period of only one hour, the mood was noticeably tense after the team at the Guiana Space Centre said the launch would be delayed for "standard checks" for the third time.

There was a huge round of applause when the rocket was finally launched successfully within the hour.

Members of the team said there were no problems with the rocket but preferred to delay on the side of caution.

The launch marked the space centre's 62nd successful launch in a row.

Measat Satellite Systems director Tun Hanif Omar said the satellite, which had an investment value of RM1.1bil, represented the next step in MBG's mission to become the leading satellite provider in emerging markets.

French ambassador to Malaysia Martine Dorance congratulated MGB for its latest venture, saying the Measat-3b satellite was a milestone for communication in Malaysia.

National Science Centre director Assoc Prof Dr Irmawati Ramli and about 400 students from various secondary schools also watched the live telecast of the launch at the NSC in Bukit Damansara.

Measat-3b was boosted into geostationary transfer orbit by an Ariane 5 launch vehicle from the Guiana Space Centre, Europe's Spaceport, in Kourau, French Guiana.

The Measat-3b project was initiated in June 2011. Built by Airbus Defence and Space, it is Malaysia's largest and most advanced satellite to date, providing an additional 48 high-powered Ku-band transponders to the 91.5E orbital slot to expand direct-to-home and very small aperture terminal services across Malaysia, India, Indonesia and Australia.

It is the third Measat satellite launched by French company Arianespace, after Measat-1 and Measat-2 in 1996.

Measat-3b, the largest Malaysian satellite ever launched, is expected to significantly boost Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd's offerings to customers.

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