Sri Lanka's first Satellite - weighs only 1.1 kilograms | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka's first Satellite - weighs only 1.1 kilograms


We have lift off; NASA control centre lunched Cygnus NG-11 on April 17, 2019. The Cygnus rocket was launched from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia in the United States, on board was Raavana-1 alongside Nepal’s Nepali Satellite-1. Cygnus NG-11 took flight at 2:16 am Sri Lankan standard time and reached the International Space Station (ISS) the next day, at around 6:30 pm local time.

Tharindu Dayarathna, Electrical and Electronic Engineer and Dulani Chamika Vithanage, Mechatronics Engineer, are the two engineers who are responsible for the successful build of the Raavana-1. Tharindu Dayarathna the man-in-charge of communications, the crucial task. Dulani Chamika Vithanage is the woman in charge of the brain of the Raavana-1IE computer system, an essential part of the satellite. However, both engineers played a big role in Raavana-1.

Raavana-1 also known as BIRD LKA is a part of three other birds (satellites) from Nepal and Japan. Raavana-1 was sent to orbit at an incredible distance of 400 km from the surface of earth, just think of it like you are driving from Beruwala to Elephant Pass in Jaffna, although in this case you will be driving straight into outer space. The Nano satellite is equipped with a camera that will be photographing Sri Lanka, 15 times a day.

Tharindu Dayarathna and Dulani Chamika Vithanage

Truth be told Tharindu Dayarathna and Dulani Chamika, are our nations hero’s as they jumped a milestone, brining Sri Lanka into the era of aerospace. This is our nation’s 1st satellite, but this doesn’t mean that we should stop here. Therefore, it will not be the last satellite we put into space.

Raavana-1 is Nano satellite, which is categorised as a CubeSat, the satellite has a significant size of 1,000 cubic centimetres and amazing weight of only 1,100 Grams (1.1 Kilograms) and it has a life span of one and a half years which is significant as the Nepali Sat-1 only has a life span of six months.

This satellite was sent to space with five missions. Mission-1 is to provide short ciphered messages. Mission-2 to test a new wireless communication method. Mission-3, image capturing for public outreach. Mission-4, measuring the earth’s magnetic density. Mission-5, Glue. Glue, sounds a bit ridiculous, but yes, Raavana-1 will be testing a new type of COTS (commercial off the shelf) glue to replace an expensive type. So yes, this Glue will help evolve CubeSat missions.

For those of you’ll who don’t know what a satellite is, then keep on reading. Just think of a satellite as a huge mirror in outer space that receives radio frequency and reflects the radio wave to earth. So, here’s an example. Your friend or family member is abroad, they want to call you.

First thing they do is obviously take out their cellphone, call you. The moment the call is registered by the local network provider, your call gets a unique frequency which is transmitted to the nearest ground communications tower. Then the tower transmits that same frequency to the nearest satellite.

This satellite will receive the frequency. Then it will shoot that frequency to your phone’s network provider's closet ground communications tower. Once the tower gets the signal, that signal is then sent to the network provider. Then your network provider will send the signal to your phone which will then eventually start ringing.

Although, this process doesn’t take as long as you think. Just imagine if we didn’t have satellites, we would still be sending letters and there would have to be over 1000’s of communication wires laid just to make that simple phone call. But all is well, thanks to the era of satellites.