China will launch a massive Nigerian communications satellite Monday to link Africans with television programming, education services and navigation signals.

Manufactured by the China Academy of Space Technology, the Nigcomsat 1R satellite will replace a craft that lost power and failed in November 2008, less than 18 months after its launch on a Chinese rocket.

Nigcomsat Ltd., a company chartered by the Nigerian government, will operate the satellite for up to 15 years.

Nigcomsat 1R “will provide optimal and cost effective voice, data, video, Internet and application services solutions,” the satellite’s operator said.

Liftoff is expected shortly after 1630 GMT (11:30 a.m. EST) Monday, or just after midnight Beijing time on Tuesday.

An 18-story Long March 3B rocket will streak into space from the Xichang launch base in Sichuan province in southwestern China.

The three-stage rocket, boosted off the launch pad by four strap-on engines, will reach orbit 10 minutes into the mission. The rocket’s hydrogen-fueled third stage will ignite a second time to place Nigcomsat 1R in an an oval-shaped transfer orbit with a low point of 124 miles, a high point of 26,092 miles and an inclination of 24.8 degrees, according to China Great Wall Industry Corp., the state-owned commercial sales firm for the Long March rocket family.

Separation of the 11,243-pound satellite is scheduled less than 26 minutes after liftoff. Nigcomsat 1R will ultimately be positioned in geosynchronous orbit over the equator at 42.5 degrees east longitude.

China is not easing up on that gas pedal…DAAANNNGGG


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