Bangladesh plans Earth observation satellite, its second outpost in space

Bangladesh is going ahead with its plan to have a second outpost in space after finalising that it will be an Earth observation satellite.

Imagery from the satellite will enable the authorities to get a clear picture of floods or crops, and monitor large parts of the sea. 

Shahjahan Mahmood, chairman of Bangladesh Communication Satellite Company Ltd, hopes it will be possible to launch the new satellite into space within the current tenure of the government. “We want to complete the work very fast."

An Earth observation satellite or Earth remote sensing satellite is a satellite used or designed for Earth observation from orbit, including spy satellites and similar ones intended for non-military uses such as environmental monitoring, meteorology and cartography.

Bangladesh’s first satellite, Bangabandhu-1, is a geostationary communication satellite, which is used for communication only. The satellite was sent into orbit from Kennedy Space Center in the US on May 12 and Bangladesh became the 57th country to send a satellite to space. Bangladesh got full control and ownership of the satellite six months after the launch.

The decision to pick an Earth observation satellite was based on a report made by PricewaterhouseCoopers, or PwC, the consultant for the second satellite, according to Shahjahan.

Besides monitoring floods, crops and sea, it will be possible to use the satellite commercially by selling data on Central African and Middle Eastern countries that do not have such a satellite, he said.

US-based Space Partnership International was the main consultant for the design of Bangabandhu-1. The satellite system was bought under a Tk 19.52 billion deal with France’s Thales Alenia Space.

Shahjahan said the cost will be lower for the second satellite as Bangladesh has ground station and other infrastructure.

And Bangladesh will not need to pay for an orbital slot as the satellite will not be so far from Earth’s surface. It will be a Low Earth Orbit or LEO satellite.

Bangabandhu-1 was sent to an orbital slot at 119.1 east longitude, 36,000 kilometres away from the launching station.

Bangladesh rented the slot from Moscow-based Intersputnik International Organization of Space Communications for 45 years.