24 March 2016

PH’s Diwata–1 satellite launched into space

The Philippines yesterday took the penultimate step to launching an observation satellite in space as Diwata-1 soared to the International Space Station (ISS).

At around 11:05 a.m., an American supply spacecraft blasted off from Cape Canaveral, carrying 20 nano satellites, the Filipino-made 50-kg Diwata-1 microsatellite, and other payload.

Officials of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the University of the Philippines, and members of the media waited as the Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft pierced the Earth’s atmosphere.

Dr. Carlos Primo David, executive director of the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD), said the flight takes about six hours from the ground station to the ISS.

“This is a momentous event,” he exclaimed after the Cygnus, the last stage of the spacecraft that will reach the ISS, separated from its carrier and slowly disappeared in the darkness of space for a rendezvous with the ISS.

He said the final step in the Philippines’ journey to space pertains to the deployment or release of Diwata-1 from the Japan Experimental Module (JEM), nicknamed Kibo (Hope) on April 20, or later.

Kibo has a lock and robotic arm to be used in Diwata-1’s deployment at an altitude about 400 kms from Earth’s ground surface.

University of the Philippines Associate Professor Gay Jane Perez of the Institute of Environmental Science and Metrology, and project leader of PHL-Microsat Project 5, said that, among others, the microsatellite’s images once it starts beaming back to Earth (ground station in Subic Bay Freeport), can be sources for information for farmers, for weather pattern.

She said Diwata-1 will look at crop areas, status and health of crops of various crops like rice and corn.

“So, it can be used in monitoring areas and it can provide information to farmers and also to government agencies,” said Perez. (Edd K. Usman, Manila Bulletin)

The first Philippine-assembled satellite."The potential uses of DIWATA include: improved weather detection and forecasts; disaster risk management; detecting agricultural growth patterns; and the monitoring of forest cover, mining, protection of cultural and historical sites, and the territorial borders of the Philippines. (DIWATA) has been launched into space (Screenshots courtesy of NASA)