India's neighbour Sri Lanka marked its entry into the global space age with the successful release of RAAVANA-1, the country's first cube research satellite, into orbit on Monday afternoon from the International Space Station.
Raavana-1 was designed and developed by two Sri Lankan youth while studying space engineering at Japan's Kyushu Institute of Technology. The release was broadcast live on YouTube by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
The satellite was launched on 18 April this year from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, United States. The satellite was stationed at the International Space Station then released on Monday afternoon.
RAAVANA-1 will provide geographical images of parts of Sri Lanka from a distance of 400 km while orbiting the earth.
The satellite has a minimum lifespan of eighteen months. Its Lora Demonstration Mission will validate the module to be used to download data from later satellites. The satellite is part of the BIRDS project of a UN initiative created to help countries launch their first satellites.
Interestingly, China launched Sri Lanka's first communications satellite in 2012, in partnership with a Chinese state-owned space technology firm.