Vietnam's first telecommunications satellite.

Vietnam's first telecommunications satellite will go into orbit next year, the French-based space transportation company Arianespace said Tuesday.

The VINASAT-1 will be launched for Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (VNPT), Arianespace said at a press conference.

"VNPT and Arianespace have the pleasure to announce here, in Singapore, the... launch of the VINASAT-1 satellite," said Jean-Yves Le Gall, chief executive officer of Arianespace which is participating at CommunicAsia2006, a major exhibition and associated conferences which opened in Singapore Tuesday.

VINASAT-1 will blast off on an Ariane 5 rocket in the first half of 2008 from the European Space Agency's pad in French Guiana, South America. It will be built by the US aerospace firm Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems.

"It was a tough fight with US and Russian competitors" to get the deal, Le Gall said.

"It was a very important contract. It was a strategic duty for us to get work in Vietnam, given its strong economic development. It's a strong signal for other countries in Asia which were awaiting Vietnam's decision."

Financial details of the contract were not disclosed.

The satellite will be able to provide radio, television and telephone transmission services for Vietnam and the Asia Pacific region, Arianespace said.

Vietnam has seen rapid economic growth in recent years that reached 8.4 percent in 2005.

Arianespace says it holds more than 50 percent of the international market for satellites launched to geostationary transfer orbits.

It has launched satellites for Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia and Malaysia and has a launch pending for India.