Bangladesh’s second satellite, Bangabandhu-2 will not only be important for the country’s agriculture and climate, but also it’ll bring more economic success. Bangladesh can earn foreign currency by selling data obtained through this satellite. It’ll also help Bangladesh achieve self-reliance in the ambitious domain of satellite technology, reports Press Xpress
Bangladesh is gearing up to launch its second satellite Bangabandhu-2 by next year after joining the elite club of countries having their own satellite technology by launching its first-ever communication satellite Bangabandhu-1 back in 2018. This time, the government has decided to launch the Bangabandhu satellite-2 under G2G (government to government) arrangement with Russia, although speculations run rife since about two-third of the Bangabandhu satellite-1’s capacity remains still unutilised.
As for facts and references, the preliminary development project proposal (PDPP) for Bangabandhu satellite-2 was sent to the Planning Commission on 4th October last. According to the PDPP, with the launch of the satellite, the country will become self-reliant in earth observation with optical and radar images and applications.
Earlier, a presentation on Bangabandhu satellite-2 was made at a meeting of BSCL on 8th June with the Prime Minister’s Information and Communication Technology Affairs Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy. Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar and BSCL officials were also present at the meeting during which PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC (PwC), an international consulting firm based in France, presented several options for the new satellite from which to “develop satellite systems providing both optical and SAR capabilities (15 optical and 1 SAR satellites)” was chosen finally.
According to the officials of Bangladesh Satellite Company Limited (BSCL), though this option was found less profitable commercially, it was still finalised considering the country’s long-term demand and economic development, BSCL officials said. Emphasis at the meeting was laid on close monitoring during the phase of implementation to avoid delays in procuring Bangabandhu satellite-2 from Russia.
As the country’s satellite management authority, BSCL earlier on 19th January last year appointed PWC to determine the type of Bangabandhu satellite-2 at its head office in Dhaka. The contract signing ceremony was titled ‘Determining the Type and Functionalities of Next Satellite (s) (Bangladesh Satellite-2) of Bangladesh’. PWC was asked to review and advise BSCL within next three months to decide which satellite was suitable for Bangladesh.
In fact, a total number of 21 applications were submitted after inviting appointment of consultant for the Bangabandhu Satellite-2 project. Out of them, seven firms were asked to drop tenders and only four of them responded positively. Thereafter PWC being the lowest bidder was given appointment as consultant. Relevant sources, however, revealed the lowest bidder offered $5 million for consultation.
Being a geo-stationary satellite, Bangabandhu Satellite-2 will be used for weather, surveillance or security purposes. It will contain 40 transponder. Bangladesh will utilize 20 out of them and the rest 20 will be for transferring to any foreign organizations. This satellite has been projected to help Bangladesh achieve self-reliance in the ambitious domain of satellite technology.
According to BSCL, the estimated cost of this second satellite of the country is Tk 3,707 crore. The task of providing the satellite will be to take a picture of the surface and send it to Bangladesh. As a result, the agricultural landscape of Bangladesh can be monitored with the help of this satellite. In other words, it’ll be easy to know what kind of production is taking place in which land area of the country.
Besides, the flood situation can also be observed through the Bangabandhu-2. However, another important aspect of this satellite is to monitor the maritime boundaries of the country, which is very important for the internal security here.
BSCL sources also said Bangladeshi security and law enforcing agencies need security images, which are not commercially available. Many Bangladeshi government and non-government organisations cannot use remote sensing image for the complexity and dependency in purchasing images from abroad. Bangabandhu Satellite-2 will make that process easy. At present, all the government and non-government organisations have to collect satellite images from foreign operators which are, in some cases, not up to desired quality. The collection process is also complex in nature, they said.
In fine, the Bangabandhu-2 satellite will not only be important for the country’s agriculture and climate, but also it will bring more economic success. Bangladesh will also be able to earn foreign currency by selling the data, image and other customized information obtained through this satellite as the covering area of this satellite includes several countries belonging as remote as to the Middle East and Africa. Since many countries do not have Earth Observation Satellite, Bangladesh will reap economic success from selling satellite data to all those countries.
The state-owned BSCL took operational charge of the first satellite Bangabandhu-1 back in 2019. Despite the existing demand, the company is yet to lease out any bandwidth to foreign countries or companies due to a myriad of issues with the low market rates being one of those.
Earlier, the country’s first ever satellite Bangabandhu-1 was launched in 2018. The satellite has been named after Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the nation. With the launch of the first satellite, Bangladesh made its way into the elite club of satellite technology as the 57th country of the world.
The Bangabandhu satellite-1 has been placed at 119.1 degree covering Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and parts of Kazakhstan. As the coverage of Indonesia, Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan is stronger, these countries are commercially viable for the Bangladesh satellite authority.
However, the country’s second satellite has been planned with a desire to give alternative support especially during the challenging time of natural disasters. There is a growing confidence that once both the satellites are in orbit, their combined commercial value will continue to grow.
Additionally, Bangabandhu satellite-2 has become a political issue in this country as the current government made an electoral promise that this satellite will be built and launched by the year 2023.
PM Sheikh Hasina once vowed that the Bangabandhu satellite-2 would be launched much ahead of the expiry of the Bangabandhu-1. With this, the PM was actually specific on laying importance on space technology as she said, “The government would certainly continue research in space technology and make best efforts to cope with any new technology in future.”
To many observers and power players, it’s quite astonishing to think how far-sighted it was to step up to connect to satellites in a country where it was not easy to provide food on the ruins of war. Maintaining the continuity that Bangabandhu started soon after taking the helm of war-ravaged Bangladesh, his worthy daughter PM Sheikh Hasina has been taking the country to the next level thanks mainly to her unquenchable thirst for technological adoption and advancement in line with Digital Bangladesh vision.