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Bolivia Launches Its First Satellite Into Space

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A Chinese Long March-3B carrier rocket blasts off with Bolivia's first telecommunications satellite on December 21, 2013 from the Xichang satellite launch centre in China's southwestern Sichuan province. The satellite, which is expected to be operational in March 2014, has cost USD300 million (220 million euros) and has been 85 percent financed by a loan from the Chinese Development Bank. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images) | STR via Getty Images

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Bolivians are celebrating the launch of the country's first telecommunications satellite with indigenous rituals dedicated to Pachamama, or Mother Earth.

President Evo Morales was in China for the Friday launch of the satellite from that country.

Hundreds of people gathered in the Bolivian capital of La Paz to watch the takeoff on large television screens erected by the government.

The satellite is named after Tupac Katari, an indigenous Aymara hero who led 18th century resistance to Spanish colonizers. It was financed with a credit from the China Development Bank for $302 million.

Ivan Zambrana is director of the Bolivian Space Agency. He says the satellite should be fully operational by March and help bring down communications costs and improve television and Internet services for people living in rural areas.

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