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Vietnam’s Sea Observation Satellite to be Launched in Japan

Image credit: Nhan Dan

A new locally made micro-satellite developed by experts at the Vietnam National Space Centre (VNSC) has been completed and send to Japan for launching into orbit. Vietnam’s NanoDragon satellite was delivered ahead of its planned launch into outer space, according to VNSC. The satellite will be transferred to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). It was developed with the purpose of demonstrating it can use micro-satellite beam technology to receive automatic identification system (AIS) signals of ships to track and monitor vehicles at sea.

VNSC is run under the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology. According to a news report, it is the result of the nano-class satellite development, launch, and trial operation project, under the National Science and Technology Programme on space technology, from 2016 to 2020. The process of researching, designing, integrating, and testing the satellite’s functions was carried out entirely in Vietnam by VNSC researchers.

The NanoDragon satellite (NDG) is a nano-layer CubeSat satellite. It weighs 3.8 kilograms and is made up of multiple 10×10×34 cm (3U) modules. It is expected to be launched into orbit from the Uchinoura Space Centre in Kagoshima prefecture in the fiscal year 2021 (to March 2022). The centre noted that after the manufacturing, integration, and functional testing were conducted in Vietnam earlier this year, the satellite passed the pre-launch environmental testing at the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan. Additionally, the satellite has been designed to verify the quality of the satellite posture and control system and a newly developed advanced onboard computer designed specifically for small satellites. It will be working on Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) at 560 km above the Earth’s surface.

Along with the satellite development process, a ground station to operate the satellite after its launch has been installed and ready for operation at the VNSC in the Hoa Lac Hi-Tech Park in Hanoi. Previously, the VNSC also successfully developed the 1-kg-microsatellite PicoDragon, and the 50-kg satellite MicroDragon, which were launched into orbit in 2013 and 2019, respectively.

Before NanoDragon, the first made-in-Vietnam satellite, PicoDragon, was successfully launched with signals received in 2013. MicroDragon, developed by VNSC researchers under Japanese experts’ supervision, was sent into orbit in 2019. It successfully sent pictures from space to its ground station in Japan.

Last month, a virtual programme was held to promote connections for technology supply and demand between Vietnamese and Japanese businesses. The event was hosted by the Science Technology Development and Innovation Centre (ISC) under the Department of Science and Technology of the northern port city of Hai Phong. As OpenGov Asia had reported, the event saw the participation of 12 enterprises from industrial and technological centres of Japan such as Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima, and Nagoya. They introduced different technologies, including equipment for mechanical processing, automation technology, and technologies for agricultural production and farm produce processing, among others.

After the event, the organiser assisted the businesses of the two sides to negotiate and sign contracts. ISC said a similar event is scheduled to be held in September this year to connect businesses of Vietnam and the Netherlands. So far, ISC has organised hundreds of events to connect Vietnamese enterprises with technology supply and transfer partners in many countries with developed science and technology such as Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, and Russia.

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