The Phnom Penh Post

Philippine­s poised to launch its biggest satellite in 2023


THE Philippine­s will soon be sending its biggest Filipino-made satellite to space. Called Mula, or Multispect­ral Unit for Land Assessment, the newest Earth-observatio­n satellite can capture operationa­l-quality images of approximat­ely 100,000sq km of land area daily.

Mula weighs 130kg compared with microsatel­lites Diwata-1 and Diwata-2, which weighed around 50 kg.

Mula is being developed under the Advanced Satellite and Know-How Transfer for the Philippine­s (ASP) project of the Department of Science and Technology (DoST).

The project is being implemente­d by scientists and engineers of the University of the Philippine­s Diliman and the DoST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (Asti), in coordinati­on with the Philippine Space Agency (Philsa).

The Philsa will oversee its completion and launch in 2023, as well as the satellite’s management and operation.

Mula is being designed and manufactur­ed together with British small satellite developer Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), which won the 370 million peso ($7.7 million) contract in September.

In August 2019, the DoST-Asti signed an £11 million ($15.5 million) agreement with SSTL for the country’s share of data tasking and acquisitio­n of its NovaSAR-1 satellite’s services.

Mula’s design is based on

SSTL’s TrueColour earth-observatio­n satellite, capable of capturing 5m resolution images with a swath width of 120km – an improvemen­t from Diwata-2’s cameras, which have a 54m spatial resolution with a field of 90km.

Once launched, the satellite shall provide data on a regular basis for a wide variety of applicatio­ns, including coastal mapping and monitoring; disaster damage assessment; agricultur­e and aquacultur­e monitoring; and forestry management, among others.

Mula’s payload also includes Automatic Identifica­tion System and Automatic Dependent

Surveillan­ce-Broadcast, which can be utilised for ship and aircraft detection and tracking.

“With its capability to capture higher-resolution images, we will be able to better monitor terrestria­l ecosystems, as well as our land and marine resources to ensure both agricultur­al productivi­ty and environmen­tal integrity,” said Gay Jane Perez, deputy director of Philsa and ASP project leader.

According to engineer John Leur Labrador, Mula project manager, the new satellite can be described as having our own astronaut in space.

“We can think of this spacecraft

as a Filipino astronaut tasked to take images of our natural resources while monitoring aircraft and ship activity in our country at the same time,” said Labrador, who also worked on Diwata-1 and Diwata-2.

After the launching in 2016 of the Diwata-1, the first Filipino-made satellite, into space, the country, through the DoST, has picked up the pace in space developmen­t. Since then it has launched another microsatel­lite (Diwata-2) and two cube satellites (Maya-1 and

 ?? SSTL ?? An artist’s impression of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd’s (SSTL) TrueColour spacecraft, whose design is the basis of the Philippine’s Mula satellite.
SSTL An artist’s impression of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd’s (SSTL) TrueColour spacecraft, whose design is the basis of the Philippine’s Mula satellite.

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