Philippines’ Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary, Mario Montejo , announced earlier this week that the country will be launching its first satellite in April.
Scientists from DOST were working with space scientists in Hokkaido Japan to assemble the microsatellite last month. Named the ‘’Diwata ’’- a fairy-like creature from Philippine mythology- the microsatellite weighs about 50kg and can reach an altitude of over 400 metres.
This will be the first ever satellite launched by Philippines with another set to be launched next year. Dr Carlos Primo David from DOST elaborated the significance of its name and what it means to the Filipinos.
"It symbolizes our hopes and dreams to launch our own satellite. (In a way) it's very magical for the scientists and engineers that will be using it," he said
The Diwata makes use of remote sensing technology which acquires information of an object or phenomenon without any form of physical contact. Remote Sensing Technology have been used in the past to detect unfavourable climate conditions including the El Nino.
DOST recently hosted the 2015 Asian Conference on Remote Sensing during which they gathered the world’s foremost experts and resource persons last October. DOST have credited this conference to have benefitted their recent technological breakthrough.
The uses of the Diwata includes improved weather detection and forecasts, disaster risk management, detecting agricultural growth patterns, and monitoring of the forest cover and territorial borders of the Philippines as announced by Secretary Montejo.
This launch is part of Philippines’ 3 year satellite programme that is given a P1.2 billion (US$ 25.5 million) funding by DOST’s Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD).
Dr David also confirmed that the microsatellite will be handed over to Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency on January 12. It will then be carried to the International Space Station for launch either from California or Florida.
Dr David also expressed his optimism and hopes that the launch will be a stepping stone to the establishment of a Philippine Space Agency.