By Edd K. Usman
A third iteration of Diwata-1, the first micro-satellite of the Philippines, is now being mapped out by the national government, according to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
“With the success of Diwata-1 and the impending launch of Diwata-2 in 2018, the DOST is now planning for a third satellite,” said Carlos Primo David, executive director of the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD).
PCIEERD, an attached agency of the DOST, is in charge of the Philippine Scientific Earth Observation Micro-satellite (PHL-Microsat), which spearheaded the development and launch of Diwata-1.
The highly successful launch of Diwata-1 and the impending launch of Diwata-2 in the second quarter of 2018 are paving the way for Diwata-3, David said, adding that a Japanese team is coming to Manila to discuss the plan.
“Yes, it is in the planning stage already, but there is no signing yet (of any agreement),? said David, who is also the officer-in-charge of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI), another DOST attached agency.
The DOST officials did not give any specifics of the planned third iteration of Diwata-1, which is the first satellite designed, developed, and assembled by Filipinos in the 50-kilogram weight class guided by Japanese engineers.
David’s statement indicated the DOST and its concerned autonomous agencies, including the Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI), will continue to build on the success of the Diwata-1 micro-satellite.
Launch into orbit in April 27, 2016, Diwata-1 is estimated to come down to earth and die a natural death in November 2018 because of gravity.
The micro-satellite was developed under the PHL-Microsat program which had a budget of around P800 million. A team from the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman and Japan’s Tohoku University (TU) and Hokkaido University (HU) worked on the project.
The PHL-Microsat initiative includes a ground receiving station (GSR) called Philippine Earth Data Resources Observation (Pedro) and a state-of-the-art laboratory training facility for satellite-making.
David recently said the DOST has to pour in another P20 million mainly because of the appreciation of the Japanese yen.
On April 27 this year, the DOST and the men and women behind the PHL-Microsat program celebrated Diwata-1’s first anniversary in orbit.
At the celebration at the ASTI office in UP Diliman campus, the DOST announced the planned launch and deployment of Diwata-2 in space by the second quarter of 2018 through the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) H2A rocket managed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. It was moved from its earlier target launch in late 2017.
David said the general design of Diwata-2 is already complete. “But we added an amateur radio (to the payload) for communications that will allow us to convert radio signal into text message,” he said.
On its first year in space, Diwata-1 passed over the Philippines at least 45 times a day at a speed of around seven kilometers a second. It already produced 844 images of the country’s various areas.
“The satellite technology will eventually address the need for near real-time on demand access to data that will eventually enhance local planning and decision support for climatology, disaster risk mitigation, and resource management,” ASTI said.
ASTI also emphasized that the satellite program is seen to pave the way for the country’s own space agency.
Diwata-2, which is now being built in Japan and undergoing various extensive testing, will continue the mission of Diwata-1, keeping track of the country’s agriculture and environment.
Nine Filipino engineers are presently in Japan for the PHL-Microsat program to design, develop, and build Diwata-2. They are Adrian Sales and Joven Javier in Kyushu Institute of Technology (KyuTech); Delburg Mitchao and Ellison Castro, Hokkaido University (HU); Ariston Gonzalez (recently finished his Masters in Science degree) and Leonard Paet, Tohoku University (TU); Julie Banatao and Paolo Violan (soon to enroll); and Gerwin Guba (research student).
The original “Magnificent Nine” who built Diwata-1 are Harold Bryan Paler, John Leur Labrador, Benjamin Jonah Magallon, and Kaye Kristine Vergel (all recently graduated and now back home); Julian Marvick Oliveros and Juan Paolo Espiritu (who opted to discontinue their studies after the completion of Diwata-1); Mitchao, Guba and Gonzalez (all still in Japan).