Lockheed to build Vietnam's first satellite

US defence giant Lockheed Martin will build Vietnam's first satellite, a Vietnamese official said.

india Updated: May 12, 2006 15:19 IST

US defence giant Lockheed Martin will build Vietnam's first satellite, a Vietnamese official said on Friday, in the latest victory for American businesses in the communist nation.

Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems had been competing against the European consortium Astrium (EADS)-- Alcatel Espace and a US-Japanese consortium led by Sumitomo Corporation.

"The US group Lockheed Martin won the bid," an official from the state-owned Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Corp (VNPT) said.

He said the deal would be sealed with a signature ceremony later in the day.

Details of the contract between the Vietnamese government and Lockheed were not immediately available but local papers reported it was worth 168 million dollars, short of the 180 million figure earmarked for the project by Hanoi.

"The choice of the foreign builder has been based on technology matters as well as on the price," the Vietnamese official said.

The satellite, called Vinasat and carrying up to 20 communication modules, must be launched before the second quarter of 2008 or it faces losing an orbital position booked years ago.

The ultra-sensitive project has suffered major delays over the last few years, mainly caused by difficulties in coordinating frequencies with neighbouring satellites from other countries already in orbit.

Hanoi views Vinasat as an important symbol of its sovereignty and technological ability.

First Published: May 12, 2006 15:19 IST