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Thuraya-1 countdown begins

The Middle East's first mobile communications satellite will be launched tomorrow in the Pacific Ocean.

Mobile satellite communications in the Middle East draw a step closer to reality tomorrow, with the launch of Thuraya’s first telecommunications satellite, Thuraya-1.

The satellite is currently aboard the vessel Sea Launch Odyssey, heading to the offshore launch site at the Equator in the Pacific Ocean. Launch time is set for tomorrow morning at 10.15am, UAE time, 6.15am GMT.

The satellite will be the heaviest one launched so far by the Zenit-3SL rocket, weighing in at 5000kg. It was built by Boeing GEM, and will be controlled from a master control centre based in the UAE.

Once the system is in it’s geo-synchronous orbit 36,000km above the earth, it will provide satellite enhanced mobile communications to 99 countries across the Middle East, Asia, central Africa and Europe. Services including data, fax, SMS and GPS will be available to users of the system, which has an initial capacity for 1.8 million subscribers.

Mohammed Omran, chairman of Thuraya said: “With preparations already started on the launch of Thuraya-1, we have reached a critical milestone in the progress of our leading mobile satellite system.”

The launch will be shown live on television in the UAE, and by webcast at www.sea-launch.com

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