Jan 02, 2016

DOST, 2 Japanese universities complete Philippine satellite for launching in space

(by Edd K. Usman. January 2, 2016) On Jan. 12, 2016, the Philippines and two Japanese universities will hand over to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) the country’s first Filipino-assembled satellite for launch in space.

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Officials of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Tohoko University (TU), and Hokkaido University (HU) will be doing the handover after the completion of the assembly and testing in December, 2015, of the 50-kg Philippine Earth Observation Microsatellite, nicknamed “Diwata.”

In a text message yesterday, DOST Secretary Mario Go Montejo confirmed to the Manila Bulletin the launch of Diwata will push through in the first quarter of 2016.

He said the uses of Diwata include improved weather detection and forecasts, disaster risk management, detecting agricultural growth patterns, and monitoring of the forest cover and of the territorial borders of the Philippines.

The DOST chief expressed confidence the government “can develop a lot more uses for the microsatellite if we keep on improving its capability to expands its applications.”

Montejo said the space program of the DOST has two components, namely, the development of the Diwata and the Philippine Earth Data Resources and Observation (PEDRO) Center.

DOST’s Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) funded the government’s three-year (2015-2017) satellite program with around P1.2 billion, said Dr. Carlos Primo David, PCIEERD executive director.

While the Philippines had satellites in the past, Diwata is the first “eye-in-the-sky” developed and assembled by Filipino scientists and engineers now in Japan in cooperation with their Japanese counterparts, he said.

“We, together with the two Japanese universities, will hand over the microsatellite to JAXA on Jan. 12,” Dr. David said on Friday in a mobile phone interview.

JAXA will send the microsatellite to the United States, where a spaceship will carry it to the International Space Station (ISS), orbiting 400 kms. above Earth, for launch in space, he added. Diwata will be launched either from California or Florida.

He said Diwata marks a milestone in the Philippines space program. DOST hopes it will hasten the establishment of a Philippine Space Agency, he added.

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