Indonesian communications satellite launch heralds ambitious connectivity project

Indonesian communications satellite launch heralds ambitious connectivity project

Spacecraft manufacturer, launcher, and satellite communications company SpaceX has launched a new Indonesian communications satellite as part of an ambitious project called SATRIA.

The $550 million project aims to provide high-speed internet access to schools, medical centres and thousands of public and government facilities across the island nation.

The powerful satellite, which is intended to boost broadband access across thousands of islands in the country’s vast archipelago, launched on Sunday. As Reuters explains, roughly two-thirds of Indonesia's 280 million population already use the internet, but connectivity is limited in the country’s far-flung, underdeveloped eastern islands.

The satellite was built by Thales Alenia Space, which provides space-based systems, including satellites and ground segments, for multiple telecommunications and exploration-related purposes. It will use onboard ion thrusters to circularize its orbit at an altitude of about 35,888 kilometres above the equator at 126 degrees east longitude. 

The CBS news service explains that satellites at that geosynchronous altitude take 24 hours to complete one orbit, rotating in lockstep with the Earth to appear stationary in the sky. That allows the use of fixed antennas on the ground, greatly simplifying the infrastructure needed to send and receive data. The satellite is designed to operate for at least 15 years.

SATRIA is a public-private project between the government of Indonesia and a consortium led by satellite operator PT Pasifik Satelit Nusantara, or PSN.

The launch has received enormous press coverage already – and it’s not too surprising given the statistics involved. With a throughput of 150 gigabytes per second, SATRIA will connect some 94,000 schools, nearly 50,000 village offices, other government facilities and thousands of hospitals and medical facilities across the fourth most populous country in the world.

Before SATRIA, Indonesia relied on five domestic communications satellites and four ‘foreign’ relay stations with a combined 50 gigabytes of telecommunications bandwith. SATRIA can provide more than three times the combined national capacities that are currently in use,

Adi Rahman Adiwoso, chief executive officer of PSN, was quoted by SpaceTechAsia as saying "We are confident that SATRIA can be the solution to the digital gap that still exists in Indonesia."


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