CAPAS, Tarlac (May 15, 2023) — The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) begins its series of space science talks in four high schools in Tarlac province today.
The Philippines’ Space Agency officials will first land at Capas National High School today, Tarlac National High School on May 16, Maliwalo National High School on May 17, and O’Donnell National High School on May 18.
Each visit will see the PhilSA engage students in space education, space research and development, careers in space science and technology applications, and culminates in a water rocket activity.
This week’s space lecture is in partnership with the Department of Education Region 3 and the Tarlac Provincial Science and Technology Office.
PhilSA will also conduct a Space Technology Applications Exhibit at Tarlac State University – Main Campus on May 16 to 18.
The exhibit will feature a mobile planetarium, Philippine microsatellites, and space technology applications made by Filipino scientists.
In 2014, the country started a micro-satellite program where local engineers developed and produced the Diwata-1, Diwata-2, Maya-1, and Maya-2, which were all subsequently launched into space.
OF GODDESSES AND BIRDS
The Philippines’ first microsatellite, DIWATA-1, was launched in 2016 in Cape Canaveral in the US.
The satellite was built by Filipino engineers and scientists from the University of the Philippines Diliman in collaboration with Japanese universities, Tohoku University, and Hokkaido University, and with support from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for scientific earth observation.
Designed to last only 18 months in orbit, Diwata-1 defied expectations and lasted four years of successful operation before it de-orbited in April 2020.
Diwata-1’s successor, DIWATA-2, was developed by 11 scholars under the DOST, in cooperation with the Tohoku University and Hokkaido University in contrast to 9 DOST scholars who worked with Diwata-1.
Diwata-2 hosts an amateur radio payload that will enable people in the Philippines to relay messages through ham radio to any part of the country. This function is meant for disaster relief operations.
It was launched at Tanegashima Space in Japan in 2018 with a five-year projected life expectancy.
A second satellite was launched in 2018 MAYA-1, and was developed mainly through the second Joint Global Multination Birds Satellite (Birds-2) initiated by the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan.
The mission of Maya-1 was “experimental testing of commercial apparatus,” and due to its size, it was to provide “a cost-effective educational platform” to help Filipinos build future satellites. The satellite could also be used to relay messages in the event typhoons render cellular services unavailable.
Maya-1 was projected to be operational for six to nine months but exceeded this by de-orbiting only in late 2020.
The more advanced MAYA-2 was launched in February 2021 for a 16-month mission. It re-entered the atmosphere in July 2022.
FLEDGLING SPACE AGENCY
Before PhilSA, the DOST funded the National Space Development Program to set up the foundations of a future space agency.
Several government agencies under the DOST had previously maintained the country’s space program: the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
The DOST and the Manila Observatory crafted a 10-year master plan in 2012 to make the Philippines a “space-capable country” by 2022.
On August 8, 2019, then-President Rodrigo Duterte, signed Republic Act No. 11363, or the Philippine Space Act, to manage and operate the decentralized space program of the Philippines.