PH soon in space; DOST to launch satellite by 2016

Photo Credit: Pulse America

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) plans to launch a legacy project that will literally fly above all other accomplishments of the administration, as they announce their plans to launch the country’s own space satellite.

According to a report by Interaksyon, DOST Secretary Mario Montejo said he is gunning to launch by 2016 the Philippines’ first microsatellite. Montejo believes that the microsatellite will primarily boost the country’s weather detection technology, among many other uses.

The project, which is called the Development of the Philippines’ Earth Observation Micro-Satellite, goes by the codename “Diwata.”

Montejo also shared that as a step towards the completion of the satellite plan, his department is now working on how to build a receiving station for satellite data.

“We are still developing the tools. But it’s a program that has already been approved by our president. We have actually started implementation by developing the tools,” Montejo told a group of reporters.

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Regarding the project’s funds, the secretary said the project cost for the construction of the receiving station may be about P600 million. He also disclosed that the item is already included in the budget plan for next year.

Montejo also added that his department is now stepping up the research capability of DOST personnel, in partnership with other countries such as Japan, to interpret satellite data.

“Having our own receiving station and satellite will be a departure from our present set-up, where we rely on third-party service providers and commercial vendors to provide satellite space imagery along with interpretation,” the DOST secretary said.

The secretary imparted that there will be a lot of advantages on being in control of our own tools, as it will bring various technological benefits. An example he shared is the microsatellite which can be used to monitor our forest cover, agricultural growth patterns, as well as our much-porous territorial borders.

“There are lots of uses that we can develop. If we keep on improving the capability, then the applications will also increase,” Montejo said.

Meanwhile, Rowena Cristina Guevara, the executive director of DOST’s Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD), said local scientists are currently studying how to make satellites and sensors, but in order for the project to move forward, they need a law that would allow DOST to pursue a space program.

“We’re hoping Congress will pass a law creating a space agency,” Guevara told journalists in a forum on PCIEERD’s programs and projects.

According to Guevara,  the idea of launching the first Filipino-made mini-satellite came after the development of the Light Ranging and Detection (LiDAR) mapping technology under the DREAM (Disaster Risk Assessment, Exposure and Mitigation) Project.

“We can use the mini-satellite for our LiDAR mapping.”

Last month, the DREAM Project’s LiDAR mapping technology won the Geospatial World Excellence in Policy Implementation Award for 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland.