Bangladesh needs at least five months to develop the technical set-up necessary to use the South Asia Satellite that was launched in India on Friday.
The country has no ground control station to establish a link with the new satellite, said an official of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC).
“We are building our own satellite – Bangabandhu 1 – for which the government is building two ground control stations in Gazipur and Rangamati,” the official told the Dhaka Tribune, requesting anonymity.
“One of those stations can be used to establish a link with the South Asia Satellite, but it will take at least five months to finish the construction of those stations. That is why we cannot connect with the regional satellite yet,” he said.
India launched the South Asia Satellite, also known as GSAT-9, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, a Bay of Bengal barrier island located off the coast of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
Built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the project is aimed at boosting India's “neighbourhood first policy” as well as helping it carve a unique place for itself in space diplomacy by becoming the rare example of a country to “gift” a satellite to its neighbours.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the ISRO scientists after the successful launch.
“We are very proud of them. The historic occasion has been made better with a surprise- we have leaders of South Asian nations joining us in celebrating this launch,” he tweeted.
Leaders from six other South Asian countries who are also part of this project joined in via video conference to address the press.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina offered congratulations on the successful launch which she said had “changed the face of South Asia."
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Funded entirely by India, the Rs235-crore satellite is in line with Modi's “sabka saath, sabka vikaas” (collective effort, inclusive growth) concept, said Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Gopal Baglay.
Modi first broached the idea of a regional satellite during his speech at the 18th Saarc Summit in Kathmandu in November 2014.
Although first named the "Saarc Satellite," it was renamed as the "South Asia Satellite" when Pakistan and Afghanistan opted out of the project due to security concerns. Afghanistan later rejoined the project, but Pakistan remained out.
The satellite will be used for mapping natural resources, telemedicine, education, IT connectivity and people-to-people links, and emergency communication during disasters.
Bangladesh will receive one of its transponders free of cost, according to a deal signed with India on March 23.