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 blast-off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in Sichuan province. Hundreds of people gathered in the Bolivian capital of La Paz to watch the take-off 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 colonisers. It was financed with a credit from the China Development Bank for US$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.