MANILA — The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched the Philippines’ first microsatellite, the Diwata-1, to the International Space Station (ISS) on March 23 at around 11:05 a.m. (Philippine Standard Time) and was able to dock later to the ISS to the delight of the Filipinos, especially those behind the project.
Diwata-1 was part of the 3,395 kilograms (7,485 lb) of science gear, crew supplies and vehicle hardware cargo that Cygnus spacecraft lift off on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, USA, at 11:05 p.m. of March 22, Eastern Standard Time.
The launch was part of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) commercial provider Orbital ATK’s fifth mission, and Cygnus’ second flight atop the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
Officials from Florida earlier forecast a 90 percent chance of favorable weather for the launch of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft to the ISS.
Also, the crew explored advanced space science and reviewed their roles and responsibilities in the event of an emergency aboard the station.
Minutes before the launch, NASA also cited good weather and no interference from the sun.
At the ISS, Diwata-1 will be housed in the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM), nicknamed “Kibo.” Towards the end of April, the JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD) will release Diwata-1 into space at an altitude of 400 kilometers from the earth’s surface.
The country’s first microsatellite is expected to be in orbit for approximately 18-20 months and will be imaging the country twice daily.
Diwata-1 has four cameras that would continuously take pictures of the Philippines. These images will be used for research and in remote sensing.
Remote sensing “is a necessary technology for monitoring weather, disasters, as well as environmental issues” as described by Kohei Cho, Asian Association on Remote Sensing (AARS) general secretary.
Remote sensing has been proven to be capable of monitoring El Niño, too, according to Enrico Paringit during the 36th Asian Conference on Remote Sensing (ACRS) held in the Philippines last year.
Diwata-1 was assembled by nine young Filipino engineers who were stationed in Japan to undergo an extensive course about microsatellite. The team had almost a year to finish the assembly and testing of Diwata-1 that weighs 50 kg and is about the size of a “balikbayan box”.
The microsatellite passed the component tests, first vibration tests, post-vibration electrical tests, off-gas test and fit checking according to PCIEERD. There was a continuous functionality tests of modules and sensors and software optimization.