Philippines' first microsatellite lifts off

Eden Estopace
eGov Innovation

The Philippines’ first microsatellite, Diwata-1, was launched into space last week from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Camp Canaveral, Florida.

Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Mario G. Montejo said that Diwata-1’s launch into space would enable the government to generate real-time data that will help the country improve its disaster response mechanisms.

“The satellite will also aid the rest of the country in terms of agriculture and tourism, with the satellite giving data that will help farmers decide what crops to plant and where, while also capturing the country’s natural wonders,” Montejo said.

A 50-kg imaging satellite,Diwata-1 was assembled by nine young Filipino engineers stationed in Tohoku and Hokkaido University over the last 14 months. IT has four specialized cameras for imaging weather patterns, agricultural productivity, and land and water resources.

Diwata-1 is expected to be in orbit for approximately 20 months, taking images twice daily. And while it is still in orbit, its sister Diwata-2 will be launched late 2017 or early 2018.

Diwatas 1 and 2, and the ground station called the Philippine Earth Data Resources Observation (PEDRO) are part of a three-year, 40.82-million peso ($18.1 million) microsat program.

In 2014, the Philippine government through the DOST embarked on a research program to develop the necessary local expertise in space technology and allied emerging fields in science and engineering.

The flagship project of this program is the PhilMicrosat Program handled by several departments at the University of the Philippines and DOST’s Advanced Science and Technology Institute. The program also has two partner universities in Japan where the Diwata engineers are taking their higher studies.

Along with the microsatellite development is the installation of the satellite ground receiving station in Subic, Zambales that is tasked to receive DIiwata-1 imagery, including other images from selected commercial satellites.

Another space-related facility under construction is the UP Diliman Microsatellite Research and Instructional facility which will be the hub of training for future space technology research and development activities.

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