Sri Lanka will send its first astronaut to space within the next seven years with the help of Chinese government, Science and Technology Senior Minister Tissa Vitharana declared.
The island nation entered the space age with the launching of the Supreme Sat-1 last month.
He said a private Sri Lankan company known as Supreme Sat entered into a partnership agreement with China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC) for the design, manufacturing and launching telecommunication satellite Supreme Sat and two other satellites by 2015, the Daily Mirror reported.
The second satellite is expected to be launched in April 2013.
This project has been totally funded by the private sector with a total cost estimated at US$ 300 million and the government has no involvement in it, according to the minister.
An aeronautic and space administration centre at Pallekelle, Kandy in the Central Province will be established by the Chinese government as agreed to administer, monitor and control satellites, he said.
This centre will also receive and distribute satellite communications.
The minister further added that the centre also expects to train astronauts at Pallekelle and Sri Lanka could hope to send a Pallekelle Space Centre-trained Astronaut to space at some future date.
Commenting on the country’s satellite communication programme with CGWIC, he said, Sri Lanka must not rely on commercial satellites launched by other countries because the Supreme Sat-1 with the Lion Flag on its shell had undertaken to lease a part of its payload for commercial purposes to the Supreme Group of Companies headed by Nilan Maligaspe.
The Supreme Sat-1 will provide Satellite Broadcasting, Digital Multimedia System, Data Transmission to East Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Australia and the Pacific Region, the minister said.
“The Supreme Sat-1 is a Geo Stationery Satellite (GSS) which will be positioned in an orbit of about 26,000 kilometers above Sri Lanka which helps Sri Lanka to use it for telecommunication purposes with more clear and quality TV, radio and telecommunication transmissions with costs. Sri Lanka can use the Supreme Sat-1 to provide facilities to other countries and much needed foreign exchange,” he said.
The Supreme Sat-1 satellite was launched on November 27 from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in China.
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