LA PAZ – Bolivia’s first communications satellite, the TKSAT-1, has generated revenues of $102.2 million in its first five years of operation, the head of the Bolivian Space Agency (ABE) said Thursday.
In a session with journalists, Ivan Zambrana said that the annual turnover went from $7 million in its first year in orbit to more than $25 million starting in 2016.
“The cumulative amount is about $102.2 million and it’s an accurate indicator that if we didn’t have our own satellite, that money would have gone abroad,” he said, noting that TKSAT-1 still has 30 percent in spare capacity to generate additional revenue.
Zambrana recalled that one of the reasons why the government decided to promote the satellite project was because Bolivia had spent 35 years “leasing foreign satellites, paying in dollars.”
Another aim was to ease the situation of “exclusion and inequality” in access to telecommunications across Bolivia, especially in rural areas, the ABE director said.
“It doesn’t mean that we have solved all the problems, but we have made significant progress in erasing the inequality that existed in the Bolivian population between those who had access to information and communication technologies and those who did not,” he said.
The TKSAT-1 was built by China Great Wall Industry Corporation, a unit of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. The $302 million project was largely financed with a loan from the China Development Bank.
The spacecraft was launched on Dec. 20, 2013, from China’s Xichang Satellite Launch Center.
TKSAT-1 is operated by ground control stations in the Bolivian regions of La Paz and Santa Cruz staffed by civilian and military personnel trained in China.