Sri Lanka will become a member of the elite ‘Satellite Club of Nations’ when it launches its first satellite in two years under its ambitious ‘Small Satellite Mission’ programme, Technology and Research Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said.
This is a direct result of selecting Sri Lanka as the pilot country by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (UNESCAP) for the five year plan carried out to measure the sustainability of utilizing space technology for sustainable development on a proposal made by Minister Ranwaka.
Addressing the media at the National Science Foundation (NSF) yesterday, Minister Ranawaka said Sri Lanka was still in infancy stage in using Earth Observation Satellite Data, Remote Sensing, Global Navigation Satellite Systems, Satellite Communication and Geographic Information Systems for her development where these new technologies can be used for each and every sector for accelerated progress and value addition. They also can be used for advance warning of natural disasters and environment and climate change.
The Arthur C Clarke center will be the focal point in this exercise and the local technology and human power will be used in assembling Sri Lanka’s first satellite. The decision to choose Sri Lanka as the Pilot Country was taken at the regional conference of the UNESCAP held in Bangkok from November 27 and 28 where Minister Ranawaka represented Sri Lanka.
Responding to a journalist, Minister Ranawaka said the reaping the optimal benefits of space technology applications in enhancing the efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity of various spheres of developmental activity requires building the critical mass of human resources with requisite competence in technology, the physical resources such as access to satellite data, software and application programs and above all, accordance of the priority that it deserves in the process of formulation of the organizational strategies and programs in our respective organizations.
Minister Ranawka added that the orbiting a communication satellite in China with the collaboration of a Sri Lankan company was not a national programme and added a ‘satellite ground station’ will b set up at Pallekele in Kandy.
A Space Engineer Sanath Panawattage making a presentation said a team of 7 member space scientists is due in Sri Lanka in mid December to prepare the ground work for the project.
“There is no field that cannot be value added or developed through satellite or space technology. Therefore, its application to develop science, agriculture, environment and fisheries sector is highly beneficial to a country like Sri Lanka,” Mr. Panawannage stressed.