By P K Balachandran - COLOMBO
01st December 2012 09:28 AM
R M Manivannan
R M Manivannan
A 44-year old Tamil from Colombo, who traces his roots to Tiruchy district in Tamil Nadu, has become the first Sri Lankan national to put a satellite in space, and that too as a private enterprise.
R M Manivannan’s SupremeSAT-1 communications satellite was launched from China’s Xichang Space Centre on November 27. The French-made satellite with a life span of seven years will begin beaming in 2013.
Initial reactions to Manivannan’s ambitious $320 million venture were not warm. Instead of celebrating the achievement, the Lankan media and opposition kicked up a controversy, highlighting the dangers arising from China’s involvement. They also picked on the Lankan government’s initial reluctance to hail the launch, lack of information on the source of funds, and India’s supposed worry over the strategic implications of China’s role in the project.
But within two days, it became clear that the project was a 100 per cent private sector enterprise pursuing a credible business model with an eye on the regional communications market.
Lankan tax payers’ money was not involved. China’s involvement was also purely commercial, in line with deals it had already entered into with other global parties. Finally, President Mahinda Rajapaksa put a lid on the controversy by hailing the launch.
Manivannan told Express on Friday that he had first approached India for a satellite and launch facilities.
“This was partly because of my Indian origin and because the KU band transponder in the satellite, which is used for DTH services, has a huge market in India. I talked to a number of Indian investors. I even invited former President Abdul Kalam to be the honorary chairman of my company. While Kalam excused himself, Indian investors were skeptical,” he said. The project is funded by suppliers’ credit, supported by a commercial bridge loan.
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Congrats to Mr. Manivannan! It is said the first person to conceptualize the this space navigating communication device called satellite was also a Sri Lankan(naturalized) by the name Arthur C. Clarke.
Posted by Suren at 12/02/2012 09:12 Reply to this Report abuse