First PH micro-satellite starts historic deployment in outer space

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The country’s first micro-satellite, the Diwata-1, was officially launched to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday, March 23, at around 11:05 a.m. (local time).

The spacecraft carrying Diwata-1 blasts off in Cape Canaveral in Florida
The spacecraft carrying Diwata-1 blasts off in Cape Canaveral in Florida

Diwata-1 is among the 3,395 kilograms (7,485 lb) of science gear, crew supplies, and vehicle hardware cargo that the Cygnus spacecraft lifted off on an Atlas V rocket in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, USA.

The launch was part of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) commercial provider Orbital ATK’s fifth mission, and Cygnus’ second flight atop the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

Officials from Florida earlier forecast a 90 percent chance of favorable weather for the launch of Orbital ATK?s Cygnus spacecraft to the ISS.

Also, the crew explored advanced space science and reviewed their roles and responsibilities in the event of an emergency aboard the station. Minutes before the launch, NASA also cited good weather and no interference from the sun.

At the ISS, Diwata-1 will be housed in the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM), nicknamed “Kibo.” Towards the end of April, the JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD) will release Diwata-1 into space at an altitude of 400 kilometers from the earth?s surface.

The country’s first micro-satellite is expected to be in orbit for approximately 18-20 months and will be sending high-resolution images twice daily.

Diwata-1 has four cameras that would continuously take pictures of the Philippines. These images will be used for research and in remote sensing.

An all-Filipino team assembled Diwata-1 in Japan
An all-Filipino team assembled Diwata-1 in Japan

The potential uses of Diwata-1 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-1 was assembled by nine young Filipino engineers who were stationed in Japan to undergo an extensive course about micro-satellite. The team had almost a year to finish the assembly and testing of Diwata-1 that weighs 50 kg and is about the size of a “balikbayan box”.

The micro-satellite passed various kinds of tests and fit checking according to the DOST?s Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD). — PNA

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