Global Eco View Via Singapore’s Micro Satellite
Riding on a rocket owned by the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), Singapore’s micro-satellite X-Sat blasted off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India last week to take photographs to measure soil erosion and environmental changes on Earth. The 105kg fridge-size satellite was one of three riding on Isro’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C16).
Jermyn Chow Straits Times (21 April 11):
Riding on a rocket owned by the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), the micro-satellite X-Sat blasted off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India yesterday, more than four years late.
The 105kg fridge-size satellite, which will be used to take photographs to measure soil erosion and environmental changes on Earth, was one of three riding on Isro’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C16). The other two were built by India and Russia.
Yesterday’s launch, at 12.42pm Singapore time, was PSLV’s 18th successful lift-off since its maiden flight in 1994. Only two launches have failed.
X-Sat is designed and built from scratch by scientists and engineers from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Singapore’s defence research body DSO National Laboratories.
Now in orbit, X-Sat is establishing communication contact with ground control in NTU, a process likely to take up to a week. Once contact has been made, an ‘initial health status of the satellite will be ascertained and confirmed’, said an NTU spokesman.
This includes checking its solar panels and communication systems and the Korean-made camera, dubbed Iris, that can capture forest fires and sea pollution.
It will then relay data and beam images back to the National University of Singapore’s Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing.
With the successful launch of X-Sat, Singapore is one of the first countries in South-east Asia to have its own satellite in space. Previous satellite launches by the Republic involved construction efforts by foreign companies.
The launch capped more than nine years of hard work by scientists and engineers. Experts say the series of starts and stops had sent the cost of X-Sat from $10 million to more than $40 million.
NTU president Su Guaning congratulated the team, and said the launch represents ‘a huge leap’ in Singapore’s efforts to build space technology. He added that he hopes X-Sat’s launch will ‘excite and inspire’ more youth to take up engineering and venture into space technology.
Other countries with more established space programmes such as China, the United States and Israel launch more sophisticated satellites weighing between 500kg and 1,000kg every year. While X-Sat is small, space analysts say its launch is a credible effort by Singapore.
But defence analyst Bernard Loo of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies does not see a ‘strategic need’ for Singapore to have its own space programme yet.
‘Singapore’s strategic space is so small, there is no need for such sophisticated technology for early warning of an impending attack,’ he said.
Singapore’s satellite capability gains traction with successful launch