The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is looking forward to launching three cube satellites this year.
Microsatellites are used to capture images that will be used for remote sensing data-gathering about the earth’s surface, the atmosphere, and some vital research. They also gather data on natural and man-made disasters, to monitor vegetation and water changes, among others.
Cube satellites are small satellites initially designed to provide hands-on experience in developing satellites. This satellite usually sent to Low Earth Orbit, where it passes in a particular part of the earth for around 10 minutes.
The Philippines Launched Maya-1 into space in June 2018, via the Falcon 9 Full Thrust rocket at Cape Canaveral in Florida, United States, as part of the SpaceX CRS-15 Commercial Resupply Service mission.
Maya-1 contains an Automatic Packet Radio Service Digipeater which can communicate with ham radios. It also carries two cameras that have a wide-angle and narrow-angle lens to capture images and videos for research purposes.
In the Meantime, Maya-2 is now in the final stage of development. This satellite has additional experimental payloads, such as different antenna designs and other materials used for the solar panels of a cube satellite. This cube satellite is being made by three Filipino students, with the help of representatives from Japan and Paraguay.
In 2016 and 2018, the DOST was already launched Filipino-made microsatellites, the Diwata-1 and Diwata-2. Diwata-1, known as PHL-Microsat-1, is the first Philippine microsatellite and the first satellite built and designed by Filipinos. Diwata-2 will have the same mission as its predecessor, Diwata-1. The satellite is equipped with an experimental sun sensor that would allow the operators to determine the position of the satellite with respect to the sun. This satellite orbit at an altitude of 620 km above sea level.
According to DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña Dela Peña, the ongoing development of Maya-3 and Maya-4 cube satellites are part of the STeP-UP Project. This satellite project, including its purpose, is based on Maya-1, but with improvements such as camera filters, new antenna, and so on.
The STeP-UP Project aims to spread the knowledge gained from the Development of Scientific Earth Observation Microsatellite (PHL-Microsat) Program to local universities through the design and teaching of hands-on courses or subjects on small satellites and inter-university collaboration. Through the support of the DOST-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI), the STeP-UP Project offers scholarships for masters students who are interested in applying to the MS EE or ME EE programs in UP Diliman to study nanosatellite technology, specifically the mission design, implementation, launch, and operation of 1U CubeSats.
According to DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña Dela Peña, the DOST has allotted PHP20 million for Maya-3 and Maya-4.