The Director General of the Sri Lankan Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, Priyantha Kariyapperuma and Professor Sir Martin Sweeting of Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), have signed a landmark agreement.
This agreement starts a Sri Lankan national space capability by providing an SSTL Earth Observation satellite and commencing the definition and design of Sri Lanka’s first communications satellite.
Peter Hayes, the British High Commissioner in Sri Lanka recognised the value of the agreement, saying “This project is exciting for the development of telecommunications in Sri Lanka and will strengthen the ties between the two countries.”
The programme, including a training and development programme and collaborative activities between the University of Surrey and leading Sri Lankan academic institutes, will promote academic, industrial and socio-economic development. The project has been approved by the Sri Lankan government under the personal direction of His Excellency, President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, who also chairs the Space Centre of the University of Surrey, said “Sri Lanka has already demonstrated a keen interest in space based technology, supported through numerous programmes within the country’s universities and other academic organisations such as the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Modern Technologies. Our close partnership will allow Sri Lanka to fully embrace the benefits of space technology through training and education while stimulating industrial development. The economic benefits resulting from space based communications including TV, broadband services and earth observation applications are substantial and will positively contribute to the country’s development as a “high-tech” trading nation”.
Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), SSTL will provide an Earth observation capability and start work on a geostationary communications satellite. By partnering with SSTL for Earth observation, Sri Lanka will become an important member of the Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) with the ability to participate in international disaster relief support activities coordinated by the United Nations through the International Charter.
SSTL will also advise on the establishment of the Sri Lanka Space Agency (SLASA), building on SSTL’s experience of supporting the formation of five previous national agencies.
The Director General of the Sri Lankan Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, Priyantha Kariyapperuma welcomed the agreement, saying “Universities here in Sri Lanka have developed a programme of strong engineering research. Given that the UK is the most preferred destination for academic professionals working in technological fields to further their development, I am delighted that the opportunities created through this programme will serve to bring the two nations closer together.”