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The Philippines Boosts Space Tech

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The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) has officially joined the pioneering Faraday Dragon Mission, a multi-agency satellite rideshare initiative led by In-Space Missions Limited (ISM). The collaboration was solidified through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), marking a significant milestone in PhilSA’s journey into the realms of space technology.

Satellite rideshare missions have become a catalyst for transforming the digital economy by offering affordable access to space. This innovative approach to space travel allows startups, research institutions, and emerging players to share launch costs, breaking down financial barriers that once hindered their participation.

The cost-effectiveness of rideshare missions not only encourages a more diverse and competitive landscape within the space industry but also accelerates the deployment of satellite constellations. These constellations, crucial for applications such as Earth observation, global connectivity, and data services, contribute significantly to bridging the digital divide and fostering economic development, especially in underserved regions.

PhilSA’s involvement in the Faraday Dragon Mission stems from its participation in ISM’s UK Space Agency (UKSA) International Bilateral Fund Phase 1 earlier in 2023. This strategic move positions PhilSA as a beneficiary for payload development funding in Phase 2, subject to award and contract.

The Faraday Dragon Mission, slated for launch in 2026, not only marks the Philippines’ foray into the burgeoning field of space exploration but also stands as the first-of-its-kind satellite rideshare mission in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Faraday Dragon Mission is a collaborative endeavour backed by ISM, the UK Space Agency, and the European Space Agency (ESA). Central to its mission is the Faraday satellite platform and service capability, developed by ISM, which is designed to carry multiple payloads from diverse regional stakeholders, including governmental, civil, commercial, and research and educational organisations. The initiative aims to provide economic benefits, capacity-building opportunities, and commercial prospects for the participating entities.

Under the MoU, PhilSA gains entry into the satellite rideshare missions organised and led by BAE Systems In-Space Missions. This collaboration empowers PhilSA with access to a 150kg-class small satellite, a remarkable achievement at a fraction of traditional service costs.

PhilSA is set to collaborate with a consortium of esteemed mission partners, including the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA), Office for Space Technology & Industry (OSTIn), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), National University of Singapore (NUS), Addvalue, Taiwan Space Agency (TASA), and the National Tsing Hua University.

PhilSA, along with its mission partners, is not only contributing payload expertise but also sharing valuable knowledge, experience, and training capabilities. This collaborative effort underscores the strength of regional cooperation in space exploration, opening avenues for collective growth and sustainable development in the field. In return, ISM commits to creating opportunities for data sharing, low-cost technology integration and testing, and other value-added services as necessary for the success of the mission.

Preliminary engagements between PhilSA and ISM took place during the Global Space & Technology Convention early this year, where the Faraday Dragon’s design was unveiled. After this, in March 2023, PhilSA engaged in a two-day workshop with BAE Systems In-Space Missions to explore the feasibility of integrating PhilSA’s payloads into the BAES In-Space Missions bus system.

This collaboration signifies more than just a leap into the cosmos; it symbolises the Philippines’ commitment to advancing research and development in space science and technology applications (SSTA).

As PhilSA embarks on this unprecedented journey with ISM and other regional partners, the ripple effect of their collaborative efforts is poised to resonate not only in space exploration but also in propelling the digital economy to new heights, epitomising the transformative power of collective ambition and shared knowledge.

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