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Diwata: The Dawn of the Philippine Space Agency

Diwata, a 50-kg Earth Observation Microsatellite will be handed over to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) this coming January 12, 2016.  Officials from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Hokkaido University (HU) and Tohoko University (TU) will conduct the handover for Diwata’s eventual launch into space. The DOST and the two Japanese universities have completed the assembly and testing of Diwata last December 15, 2015.

DOST Secretary Mario Go Montejo confirmed that the launch of Diwata will push through in the first quarter of 2016.

DOST Secretary Montejo disclosed that the uses of Diwata include improved weather detection and forecasts, disaster risk management, detecting agricultural growth patterns, and monitoring of the forest cover and of the territorial borders of the Philippines.

Diwata’s capabilities can be further developed to include a variety of uses with upgrades that will expand its applications further as the DOST Secretary added.

Currently, the two components of the DOST’s space program includes Diwata and the Philippine Earth Data Resources Observation (PEDRO) Center.

The three year (2015 – 2017) satellite program amounted to Php1.2 billion and was funded by DOST’s Philippine Council for Industrey, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) according to Dr. Carlos Primo David, PCIEERD executive director.

Although the Philippines have had satellites since the 1970s such as Palapa 1, Palapa 2, Agila 1 (de-orbited in 1998) and Agila 2 (bought by a private company in 2011), Diwata is the first microsatellite to be developed and assembled by Filipino scientists and engineers in cooperation with Japanese counterparts. 

“We, together with the two Japanese universities, will hand over the microsatellite to JAXA on Jan. 12,” Dr. David said.

Diwata will be sent by JAXA to the US where it will be launched from Florida or California where it will be carried to the International Space Station (ISS) that orbits 400 kms. above the Earth.

Sec. Montejo remarked that “Diwata marks a milestone in the Philippines space program.  DOST hopes it will hasten the establishment of a Philippine Space Agency”.

Currently, the Philippine Space Agency is still in the proposal stage to be based at the Mabuhay Satellite Corporation Subic Space Center together with the planned Philippine Earth Data Resources Observation Center.

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