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On This Day In Space: March 20, 1987: NASA launches Palapa B2-P satellite for Indonesia

On March 20, 1987, NASA launched an Indonesian communications satellite called Palapa B2-P. It would later become the first satellite owned by the Philippines.

Almost 10 years after the satellite launched into orbit, Pasifik Satelit Nusantara — the Indonesian company that owned it — sold it to the Mabuhay Satellite Corporation in the Philippines. The country had been trying to establish its own satellite network for decades.

The Indonesian Palapa-2B satellite is seen being prepared for launch atop a Delta 2 rocket in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Liftoff occurred on March 20, 1987. (Image credit: NASA)

They finally bought the Palapa satellite when President Fidel Ramos said he wanted one in time for an international forum that the country was hosting later that year.

The president got his way, and the country’s first satellite was moved into its new orbit with three months to spare. Mabuhay changed the satellite’s name from Palapa to Agila, which means “Eagle” in Filipino.

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