Sri Lanka Paying China Great Wall $215M To Build, Launch SupremeSAT-2

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PARIS — Sri Lanka’s new government-backed telecommunications satellite operator, SupremeSAT, on May 30 said it had signed a $215 million contract with China’s commercial satellite and rocket sales organization for the construction and launch of the SupremeSAT-2 satellite in mid-2016.

In a response to SpaceNews inquiries, Colombo-based SupremeSAT declined to specify the orbital slot to be used for SupremeSAT-2, which will be Sri Lanka’s first fully owned satellite. Sri Lankan government officials in the past have said it would be located at 50 degrees east.

Sri Lanka owns rights to what it calls SupremeSAT-1, which was launched in November aboard a Chinese Long March rocket and which China calls Chinasat 12. The satellite operates from 87.5 degrees east.

The contract with Beijing-based China Great Wall Industry Corp. had been initialed in 2012. The final commitments were made on May 27 during a Beijing bilateral summit between the Chinese premier and the Sri Lankan president.

Sri Lanka, with a population of 22 million, becomes the latest developing nation to purchase a telecommunications satellite from China. The deal follows a similar satellite contract, signed last November with the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Previous satellite in-orbit delivery contracts were signed with the governments of Nigeria, Venezuela, Pakistan and Laos.

SupremeSAT-2 is one of several high-profile infrastructure projects that the Export-Import Bank of China has been financing in Sri Lanka.