http://www.spacer.com/images/indonesia-lembe-island-bg.jpg [not image]
Indonesian Offers To Host Launch Pad
Jakarta (AFP) December 16, 1999 - Indonesian authorities in the province of North Sulawesi have agreed to offer an island as a possible site for the building of a space port, a report said Thursday.
"Lembe island is close to the sea and is near the equator, therefore Lembe is a safe and suitable location for the construction of a space port," North Sulawesi Governor E.E. Mangindaan was quoted as saying by the province's spokesman David Babihoe.
The 52 square kilometre island is located just off the North Sulawesi port of Bitung.
Babihoe said that, if agreed, the space port will be constructed by US giant General Electrics and involve investment of at least one billion dollars.
"The North Sulawesi authorities are prepared and even are very interested in the presence of a space port project," Babihoe said.
The decision on the site to be offered had been coordinated with the Indonesian Space Agency LAPAN but that the offer had yet to be finalized.
Several Indonesian regions, including the easternmost province of Irian Jaya, have been vying to host a spaceport.
Indonesia depends largely on rocket-launched satellites for telecommunications between its more than 17,000 islands.
Officials have said that having a space station in Indonesia will result in lower satellite launching costs.
Several locations in Irian Jaya have been considered as possible sites for the equatorial launching station, including Biak island in the Bay of Cendrawasih, and Waigeo island, north of the western tip of Irian Jaya.
Waigeo and Biak are slightly south of the equator. Although Waigeo is closer to the equator, Biak is more accessible and more developed.
Indonesia currently has four Palapa telecommunication satellites in orbit, three of the B generation and two of the C series.
Copyright 1999 AFP.