Philippine Satellite Diwata-1 launched into space on March 23

The first Philippine-made microsatellite was launched into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida on March 23 aboard the rocket Atlas V.

Named as Diwata-1, the microsatellite will be brought to the International Space Station before it is sent into mission between April 4 to 7. It is scheduled to be in orbit from 18 to 20 months.

(Image Credit: NASA)

The microsatellite weighs only about 50 kilograms, just about the size and weight of a Balikbayan box. It will be sending useful information on weather patterns, agricultural data, status of areas damaged by calamities, changes in land and water resources, among others.

It will be initially controlled by Filipino engineers based in Tohoku, Japan but will later be transferred to the Philippine Earth Data Resources Observation (PEDRO) in Subic, Zambales. That's according to an interview by Inquirer with Carlos Primo David, the executive director of the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development.

Originally named as the Philippine Scientific Earth Observation Micro-Satellite (PHL-Microsat 1), Diwata-1 is the first of two satellites that will be launched by the Philippines. The second microsatellite, which might likely be named Diwata-2 will be launched in 2017.

The PHL-Microsat Program has a total budget of P840.82 million for the two satellites and for the ground receiving station, PEDRO. Majority of the funding or about P516 million come from Tohoku University and Hokkaido University, the rest (P324.8 million) comes from the Philippines.

If you think the satellite program is too costly for a country such as ours, think again. According to DOST Undersecretary Rowena Guevara, the country spends P2 billion a year just to acquire satellite imagery.

Who would have thought it would cost that much? At any rate, we think that more than the savings, having our own satellites makes us feel more secure. Why ask other countries or parties who own satellites, to nose around our country?

The Philippines had two satellites before, but these were privately owned: Agila-1, which a PLDT subsidiary bought from Indonesia in 1996 and Agila-2 owned by a consortium companies from Indonesia, Philippines and China. Both Agila-1 and 2 were not made by Filipinos.
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