Nepal, Sri Lanka enter the space age with first satellite launches

Nepal, Sri Lanka enter the space age with first satellite launches


Nepal and Sri Lanka joined the global community of space-faring nations in April 2019 by launching their first satellites from a NASA spaceport in the United States.Nepal’s satellite, called NepaliSat-1, is equipped with a 5-megapixel camera and magnetometer to gather information about Nepal’s topography and Earth’s magnetic field, according to The Diplomat, an online news magazine. After being launched from a NASA facility in Virginia, the small satellite reached the International Space Station in 36 hours and 40 minutes, The Himalayan Times newspaper reported.

The 1.3-kilogram cube satellite will be released into orbit and will revolve around the Earth four times a day. It will take pictures of Nepal for six to 10 minutes during each revolution, the newspaper reported.

While the launch was Nepal’s first foray into space, it won’t be the last. The country is working on another satellite, Nepal PQ-1, which will be launched in 2020. Additionally, it is working with France to launch a communication satellite in 2022, The Diplomat reported.

Right now Nepal’s broadcasting and telecommunication service providers rely on satellites from foreign countries, so Kathmandu is demonstrating the cost-effectiveness of developing its own satellites, The Diplomat reported. Nepal wants to equip itself  to mitigate future natural disasters and provide nationwide access to the internet.

Nepal’s leaders heralded the launch as a proud moment for the nation.Though a humble beginning, with the launching of NepaliSat-1, Nepal has entered the space era,” Nepali Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli said in a tweet following the launch. “I wish to congratulate all those scientists and institutions that were involved right from the development to its launching, thereby enhancing the prestige of our country.”

The satellite was developed by Nepali scientists Abhas Maskey and Hariram Shrestha at Japan’s Kyushu Institute of Technology. The satellite carries the Nepali national flag and the logo of the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology. Data and images from the satellite will be available in June 2019.

The satellite launch was part of a United Nations initiative to help countries launch their first satellites in collaboration with the institute in Japan. Under the project, Sri Lanka also launched a satellite named Raavana-1. Sri Lanka’s satellite will take pictures of Sri Lanka and neighboring countries.

Weighing about 1.1 kilograms, Raavana-1 was designed by research engineers Tharindu Dayaratne and Dulani Chamika from the Arthur C. Clarke Institute, which is a think tank for research and technology transfer in Sri Lanka. The engineers also developed the satellite at the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan.