Rohitha Rajapaksa has thrown shade at the efforts of the two Sri Lankan engineers who designed and developed Ravana 1 described as Sri Lanka’s first ever satellite – claiming it is in fact not the first satellite developed by Sri Lanka.
It may be a case of sour grapes given Rohitha himself is a space aficionado who claimed credit for the launch of a communication satellite back in 2012 – a venture carried out by the private-owned local company ‘Supreme Sat’ in partnership with a Chinese state-owned space technology firm.
Responding to a query at an interview where he was asked to clarify which claim is true – whether it is ‘his’ satellite or the recently launched ‘Ravana 1’ that deserves the honor of being the first satellite of Sri Lanka – Chi Chi said Ravana 1 is definitely not Sri Lanka’s first satellite.
“I wish the duo involved with the designing and development…but it is completely wrong to say that it is the first Sri Lankan satellite,” he says.
He also adds, “I saw another young boy had created a rocket and the President had promised to award him Rs. 10 million to build a bigger rocket. I think the President has been ill-advised on this subject because Rs. 10 million is not sufficient to build even the smallest part of a rocket…:”
Rohitha says he is a leading voice in space law and has written extensively and researched about it for his PhD. “There aren’t very many journal articles about space law…If you Google space law, my research will be among the leading search results.”
He goes on to say that claims made by the media may be due to intense politicization of every field in Sri Lanka that refuses to award credit or in this case ‘steal’ credit although it’s due.
“There are Sri Lankans working in the Hubble telescope project as well.There are close to 20 Sri Lankans employed in NASA but nobody writes or talks about it!,” Rohitha says. He adds he met these Lankans while he did an understudy in NASA during his academic term at the University of Southampton.
“This seems to me more like another attempt to claim revenge from the Rajapaksa family…” he says adding, those who write about these subjects aren’t even aware of the difference between a satellite and a rocket.