In a landmark launch that will supposedly "contribute to bridging the digital divide within Africa and between Africa and the rest of the world," the continent's first satellite successfully made it into orbit aboard a French-made rocket last night. The so-called RASCOM-QAF1 -- named after the Regional African Satellite Communication Organization which is funding the venture -- lifted off from the European space base in Kourou, French Guiana stowed inside an Ariane 5, the sixth such launch this year and 36th overall of that particular model, manufactured by Paris-based Arianespace. The new 3.2-tonne (7,055-pound) satellite is set to serve the large African rural market neglected by traditional cellphone carriers, and will allegedly save hundred of millions of dollars a year currently being paid to foreign operators.

[Via PhysOrg]

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