NTU Singapore launches seventh satellite

Eden Estopace
eGov Innovation

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has launched its seventh satellite, the AOBA VELOX-III, into space from the International Space Station (ISS) on 16 January.

It is the first Singapore satellite to be launched from the ISS, the 110-meter habitable human-made satellite that orbits the Earth. Unlike the conventional way of launching a satellite directly into space from a rocket, the two-kilogram VELOX-III was shot into orbit around the earth using a special launcher by a Japanese astronaut at the ISS.

The AOBA VELOX-III is a joint project between NTU and Japan’s Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech), one of Japan’s leading universities for satellite research and engineering. It is now orbiting 400 kilometers above Earth and will be conducting several tests, including the made-in-NTU micro-propulsion system, a new wireless communication system developed by Kyutech and experiments to evaluate the durability of commercial off-the-shelf microprocessors in space.

“The successful deployment of the AOBA VELOX-III is a testament to the strong satellite engineering expertise at NTU. Building up the local satellite talent pool and developing disruptive technologies like the micro-thruster in the AOBA VELOX-III is important for Singapore’s budding space industry,” said Lim Wee Seng, director of the NTU Satellite Research Center.

He said the NTU will now be developing its second joint satellite with Kyutech, which could lead to small and maneuverable satellites being used as space probes in future.

Professor Mengu Cho, Director of Kyutech’s Laboratory of Spacecraft Environment Interaction Engineering, said the launch of AOBA VELOX-III is the tangible result of research collaboration between Kyutech and NTU for the past three years. AOBA VELOX-III is an important milestone in the Japan-Singapore inter-university space exploration.

“We are looking forward to another joint satellite that is under development and scheduled to be launched in 2018. The long-term goal of the Kyutech-NTU joint space program is to do a lunar mission using the technologies demonstrated by these two satellites.”

Professor Yoon Soon Fatt, Chair of NTU’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, said conducting real satellite missions are key to training local talents for Singapore’s future satellite industry.

“Satellite technology is a field that requires strong expertise across several disciplines, from power systems and batteries to integrated circuits and wireless communications,” he said.

“The actual designing, building and operating real satellites in space gives a huge boost to the learning journey of our students and is an unparalleled experience for those seeking careers in the space industry.“

Lim added that these space experiments by AOBA VELOX-III will enhance the university’s satellite building capabilities, paving the way for the next generation of nanosatellites that are more advanced and reliable.

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