Lofty Idea

Dec 18, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is planning a space project with a British firm in a 150 million US dollar deal that could see a satellite launched into a geo-stationary orbit above the island in 30-months, an official said.

The so called Clarke orbit, named after science fiction visionary Arthur C. Clarke is used to bounce communication signals.

Under the deal with SSTL Sri Lanka will also get access to an imaging satellite, which is on polar orbit. A satellite on polar orbit effectively ‘overflies’ the entire earth as the earth rotates underneath it.

The UK-DMC2 satellite (Disaster Monitoring Constellation -2) is owned by SSTL and is on a low orbit of 650 kilometres.

SSTL consultant Nicholas Plant says the firm, which started 26 years ago will also help set up a ground station to receive imagery and give support to set up a space agency and build up capacity to eventually operate the communications satellite.

Plant says SSTL has helped with initial support for a space agency for Korea and other countries who wanted to put their foot into space at a low cost.

Kariyapperuma says Sri Lanka will look for capacity from Sri Lankan expatriates who are with space agencies in other countries.