Indonesia and Elon Musk’s SpaceX have launched the archipelago’s largest telecommunication satellite from the US. The Satellite of the Republic of Indonesia (SATRIA-1) built by Thales Alenia Space was launched on June 18.

The $540m project aims to provide high-speed internet connectivity to education facilities and medical centres as well as government facilities.

The SATRIA project is a public-private venture between Indonesia’s government and a consortium led by satellite operator PT Pasifik Satelit Nusantara (PSN).

While two-thirds of Indonesia’s 280 million population already use the internet, parts of the world’s largest archipelagic state still have limited connectivity, Reuters reported.

Ahead of the launch, Mahfud MD, senior Indonesian minister, said in a statement: “Satellite technology will accelerate internet access to villages in areas that cannot be reached by fiber optics in the next 10 years.”

SATRIA-1 will connect 94,000 schools, nearly 50,000 village offices and thousands of hospitals across Indonesia giving internet access to 50,000 public service points, the Indonesian government said.

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The connectivity will provide connectivity to the most remote areas of the archipelago, and at a speed of 150 billions of bits per second (Gbps), outperforms the UK average broadband speed of just over 50 megabits per second (Mbps).

“With a capacity of 150 Gbps, [SATRIA] can provide more than three times the combined national capacities that are currently in use,” Adi Rahman Adiwoso, chief executive officer of PSN, was quoted by SpaceTechAsia. “We are confident that SATRIA can be the solution to the digital gap that still exists in Indonesia.”

Previously, Indonesia has relied on the use of five domestic communications satellites and four foreign relay stations with a combined 50 gigabytes of telecommunications bandwidth, CBS News reported.

The launch was SpaceX’s 41st Falcon-family flight so far in 2023, and the company’s 245th overall, according to CBS News.