THE US commercial spacecraft Cygnus carrying Diwata-1, the first Philippine-made satellite, was launched into space on Wednesday, March 23 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
In a historic feat for the Philippines, Diwata-1 — originally named the Philippine Earth Observation Microsatellite — was unveiled to help monitor weather patterns and agricultural health using its four wide and middle field cameras.
Diwata-1 was assembled by a team of nine Filipino engineers from the DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) and the University of the Philippines, in collaboration with scientists and engineers from Tohoku and Hokkaido universities in Japan. It was handed over to NASA on January 18, after conducting a series of test by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in Tsubaka Space Center in Japan.
“The launch today of the Philippines’ first microsatellite “DIWATA-1” from Cape Canaveral in Florida is a historic and proud milestone for Philippine science and technology,” Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia Jr said on Wednesday.
According to the ambassador, the launch of Diwata-1 into orbit was the culmination of a research program of the Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST) that begun in 2014 to develop the necessary local expertise in space technology and allied fields in science and engineering.
Diwata-1 is expected to be in orbit for approximately 20 months and will be imaging the country twice daily. Images from Diwata-1 will be received in a Subic facility, and later on also in the UP Diliman Microsatellite Research and Instructional Facility that is currently under construction.
“The satellite will also aid the rest of the country in terms of agriculture and tourism, with the satellite giving data that will help farmers decide what crops to plant and where, while also capturing the country’s natural wonders,” DOST secretary Mario Montejo stated.
Montejo also added that the satellite will help the country in terms of agriculture and tourism. Before Diwata-1, there was Agila-1 and Agila-2 (renamed ABS-3), the country’s first known satellites but was managed by non-Philippine companies at the time of their launches.
The nine Filipino engineers in Japan are already working Diwata-2 that will be launched later, according to reports.