Tuesday, February 23, 2021



Compared to the early years of the Space Race in the mid-20th Century, satellites are now a dime a dozen – or more, actually – as they circle around the Earth fulfilling some civilian or military function. Furthermore, from the solar panel-spanning early satellites the ones in use now have benefitted from the advancement of tech, to the point that some of the present-day satellites in orbit are incredibly small. Take for instance the CubeSat, a cube-shaped communication module just over a kilo in weight and using commercial components. Thanks to the CubeSat system, the Philippines has been able to develop its own satellites for space launch, the latest actually happening Sunday.

The Manila Times reports that the second Philippine CubeSat was taken to space aboard the International Space Station this past February 21. This was announced by Secretary Fortunato De La Peña of the Department of Science and Technology. The CubeSat, named Maya-2, was developed by Filipino student engineers as part of the BIRDS 4 Satellite Project. It, alongside GuaraniSat-1 of Paraguay and Tsuru of Japan, were launched aboard a Northrop Grumman Cygnus unmanned spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS).

The engineering team that designed Maya-2 was composed of students Izrael Zenar Bautista, Mark Angelo Purio and Marloun Sejera, who worked on the design at the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan. The CubeSat has a store-and-forward communication payload for data gathering from ground sensors. It can be used to analyze weather patterns and even the spread of infectious disease, as told by Prof. Paul Jayson Co, the Space Technology and Applications Mastery, Innovation and Advancement (STAMINA4Space) project leader. Maya-2 joins earlier Philippine-made CubeSats Diwata-1 and 2, and its immediate predecessor Maya-1, aboard the ISS as the fourth Filipino-made satellite.

While a notable scientific achievement, the reaction to Maya-2 on social media also invited laughs from those who do not take the project seriously and derision from commenters thinking the resources were wasted when they could have been channeled to address the pandemic. DOST Secretary De La Peña was more positive remarking, “The date 21 February 2021 is now forever etched in the history of space science in the Philippines.”

Image courtesy of UNTV Web


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