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The Philippines’ second cube satellite now in orbit

Maya-2, the Philippines’ second cube satellite, was successfully released into orbit by the International Space Station (ISS) along with Paraguay’s GuaraniSat-1 and Japan’s Tsuru. Developed under Japan’s Kyushu Institute of Technology’s 4th Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite (BIRDS-4) Project, these cube satellites were launched at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Station in Virginia, United States through the S.S. Katherine Johnson Cygnus spacecraft.

Maya-2 was designed and built by Filipino scholars assisted through the Space Science and Technology Proliferation through University Partnerships (STeP-UP) Project of the Space Technology and Applications Mastery, Innovation and Advancement (STAMINA4Space) Programme, with funding support from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

DOST said that the successful launch of Maya-2 is an accomplishment made possible by the country’s young researchers and engineers who should make everyone confident that they can do more in space technology. The agency added that they have high hopes that more Filipinos will be able to benefit more from developments in this area.

Maya-2 engineers confirmed that upon deployment of the CubeSat, they will immediately start carrying out the satellite’s missions. At just 1.3 kg, Maya-2 has a camera that captures images and videos, an Automatic Packet Reporting System Message Digipeater (APRS-DP), attitude determination and control units for active attitude stabilisation and control demonstrations, Perovskite solar cells, and a Latchup-detection chip. Gathered data from the demonstrated components will be used to evaluate these technologies for future space missions.

The CubeSat can also collect data remotely through a store-and-forward mechanism and gather data for applications such as weather and infectious disease analysis through ground sensors, which will help the country’s ongoing battle with the pandemic.

Maya-2 was developed and improved using the knowledge gained from developing its predecessor. The DOST and STAMINA4Space Programme said it is looking forward to the continued expansion of the Philippines’ capabilities and innovations in the space technology applications sector with the development of more Filipino-made satellites. The agencies are targeting to launch Maya-3 and Maya-4 within 2021.

As the monitoring agency of the STAMINA4Space Programme, DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) said it is optimistic that the space tech initiatives will bring positive change to the country.

Moreover, as per reports, with the establishment of the Philippine Space Agency under Republic Act 11363, the Philippine Space Agency will become the main government agency to take up activities and issues related to space science, space technology, and its applications. These include the crafting and implementation of space policies, space-related research, as well as related development programmes.

DOST Secretary also talked about the existing space science and technology applications being developed and housed under the agency. He said that the agency has invested a total of PHP7.48 billion in space-related research and development. This includes 15 space-related programmes and projects implemented by different universities and agencies across the country.

The key areas of the country’s space agency are as follows:

  1. National Security and Development
  2. Hazard Management and Climate Studies
  3. Space Research and Development
  4. Space Industry Capacity Building
  5. Education and Awareness
  6. International Cooperation

The space agency will be composed of the Office of the Director-General. The Director-General will have the rank of a Cabinet Secretary and shall provide direction and supervision over the entire operations of the agency. The officials will also serve as Presidential advisors for space matters and advise the President on developments in space science, technology, and applications.

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