Colombo, Nov 20 (): With the strong nexus between Sri Lanka and China and a growing bilateral relationship, China employs space diplomacy now inking a collaborative space venture with Sri Lanka that is aimed at both economic and tactical gains for China.
Sri Lanka’s first geostationary communication satellite is scheduled to be launched on November 22, 2012 from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in China. This would be positioned over Sri Lanka within a few hours of its launch.
The satellite will have a Sri Lankan flag hoisted on it and is slated to become commercially operational by mid-2013. The total project expense is pegged at US$ 360 million. The satellite’s control unit is now coming up in Pallekele near Kandy in the Central Province.
Sri Lanka’s first private Satellite Company called SupremeSAT partly owns the satellite. With this venture, Supreme Group in Sri Lanka becomes the 15th private company in the world to possess a communication satellite. Supreme Group Chairman R M Manivannan said that this Sri Lankan space project is a collaborative venture with two Chinese companies, state-owned China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC) and Sino Satellite Communications Company Ltd.
The Chairman observed that this remarkable project in addition to opening up numerous employment and business opportunities in the island would allow people of Sri Lanka to explore options in the space industry and is also expected to bring in foreign exchange in the coming years.
The project also comprises the construction of a satellite Content Management Station and a Space Academy at Kandy to promote space science in Sri Lanka. The foundation stone for the planned Space Academy of SupremeSAT was laid at Kandy by China’s Vice Minister of Industries and Information Technology in August 2012.
After India and Pakistan, Sri Lanka becomes the third nation in the south-Asian region and 45th country in the world to own a communication satellite of its own.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s youngest son Rohitha Rajapaksa has told local media persons that Sri Lanka has plans to launch its own satellite in 2015.