They describe it as an experience out of this world! The names of these two Sri Lankan Research Engineers from Arthur C Clarke Institute, Moratuwa, have been synonymous with the first Sri Lankan satellite which will be launched into space next month.

Named ‘Raavana 1’, the satellite had been designed and built at the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan by Tharindu Dayaratne and Dulani Chamika. They had begun working on the project soon after joining the institute in October 2017.

“Joining the space technology sector has been a childhood dream for both of us. I won the PNST scholarship to study space engineering. I got to know about the BIRDS programme and was motivated to design and build a satellite with my colleague. Former Director General (ACCIMT) Eng Sanath Panawenna too encouraged us in the process because he wished to see Sri Lanka make a mark in the space technology sector. He took the first step in spearheading the mission towards designing and building this satellite,” Dulani explained.

Tharindu Dayaratne and Dulani Chamika with Raavana 1

The two youth said that they had to overcome many challenges on the way as they designed and built Raavana 1.

“We were exposed to a lot of new elements when we got to Japan. Most of them were quite alien to us so we had to work hard to keep up with our peers. We spent many tiring hours and sleepless nights working hard to bring out this product,” they revealed. The team decided to name Sri Lanka’s first satellite ‘Ravaana 1’ as a tribute to the deamon king who looms large in Sri Lankan and Indian folklore. King Ravaana was known as a great scholar and he possessed a flying vehicle for air travel.

“He is said to have traversed the skies using a technology that we are still trying to harness today. Due to all these reasons Panawenna decided to name our output ‘Raavana 1’,” Tharindu and Dulani elaborated.

Dulani manufacturing the satellite
Tharindu working on Raavana 1

Stating the statistics of Raavana 1 the youth said that the satellite’s size is 11.3cm * 10 cm *10cm. It weights around 1.05 kg. The lifespan of the satellite is around one and a half years.

Raavana 1 was designed to accomplish five missions. Its camera mission is to take pictures of Sri Lanka and its neighbouring countries. Its Lora Demonstration Mission is to validate the module/to be used to data download next satellites. The Attitude Determination and Control Mission of Ravaana 1 involves the team trying to reduce the angular velocity of the satellite using magnetic torquers.

“We are also using a software defined backplane board instead of hardware system and we are trying to validate this board. We hope to collect magnetic field density in the orbit so that we can engage in research about earth’s magnetic field density,” Tharindu expressed.

The highlight of the whole project was the day in which the youth saw their product functioning during the testing period. This was a thrilling moment indeed as both youth broke into smiles as they recalled this memory of accomplishment.

“We got a lot of positive feedback from Sri Lankans as well as other space technology enthusiasts from other countries. It was one of the most memorable moments in our lives seeing Raavana 1 showing its capacity of accomplishing its missions. We are grateful to all those who have been pillars of strength to us during all these years we have been working on the project,” they chorused.

Hailing from Mattegoda, Dulani is a product of Kottawa Dharmapala Vidyalaya and Sirimavo Bandaranaike Vidyalaya, Colombo. Her father, Anil Premachandra, is a Project Manager at Hayleys Group while her mother, Sriyani Withanage, is a housewife. Her sister, Dushani Ayesha, is into Computing with Interactive Media.

“We had a competition to select a logo for BIRDS 3 from all three countries which took part in the project. Her logo beat the logos created by Nepal and Japan and was selected as the BIRDS 3 official logo,” Dulani said.

Dulani also studied at the Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand and obtained her Bsc on Mechatronics Engineering. She is following her Masters of Science in Space Engineering at the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan.

28 year old Tharindu is from Kegalle. He is an old boy of Molagoda Primary School and Pinnawala National College, Rambukkana. He achieved his BSc in Electrical and Electronics Engineering at the Faculty of Engineering at Peradeniya University and is doing his MSc in Space Engineering at the Kyushu Institute of Technology. His father was the late Malmadayalage Dayarathna who had been a driver by profession while his mother, Kapuruge Shanthi, is a sweet seller.

Queried if there will be a ‘Ravaana 2’ and the youth break into smiles.

“We cannot predict that yet but we are hoping that we can begin work on another satellite project soon. So fingers crossed,” they mused.

Dulani vies to work towards developing the space sector in Sri Lanka while sharing knowledge and engaging in more research projects. Tharindu wishes to upgrade his knowledge more about the field and use that knowledge to expand Sri Lanka’s entry into the space technology zone.

“The next step for Raavana 1 is the launch. We will be deploying it from International Space Station (ISS),” Dulani noted regarding the much awaited historical occasion.

She advices youth never to give up on their dreams and to believe in their capabilities. Tharindu encourages youngsters to do their bit to help Sri Lanka flourish in all sectors.

“Nothing is impossible if you work hard on it. Believe in your dreams and contribute in whatever way you can to put your motherland on the global map,” he opined.


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