Milestone for Singapore as six satellites launch in orbit

A model of the TeLEOS-1 satellite.
A model of the TeLEOS-1 satellite.PHOTO: ST FILE
Galassia, an experimental cube-satellite, was developed over a period of about four years beginning in 2012.
Galassia, an experimental cube-satellite, was developed over a period of about four years beginning in 2012. PHOTO: NUS
Kent Ridge 1 is a hyper-spectral imaging micro-satellite designed to conduct scientific experimentation and analysis of Earth's surface characteristics.
Kent Ridge 1 is a hyper-spectral imaging micro-satellite designed to conduct scientific experimentation and analysis of Earth's surface characteristics. PHOTO: NUS

SINGAPORE - Lift-off. Singapore successfully launched six locally-made satellites on Wednesday (Dec 16).

Riding on a rocket owned by the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), the six satellites blasted off at 8.30pm Singapore time from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India. 

The satellites included two National University of Singapore (NUS)'s satellites built and designed by students, researchers and faculty. The satellites are the university’s first in space. 

Launched from Isro's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C29), the six satellites will hover about 550km above ground for up to five years.

They were built from scratch by teams from defence manufacturer Singapore Technologies Electronics (ST Electronics), Singapore-based space technology firm Microspace Rapid, the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University.

The biggest among the satellites is the 400kg TeLEOS-1, the first Singapore-made commercial earth observation satellite to orbit in space.

It carries a camera that can take pictures at ground resolution of up to a metre and can conduct surveillance missions for maritime and border security.

While the TeLEOS-1 is expected to last up to five years, the other smaller satellites, built by NUS, NTU and Microspace Rapid, will last for between six months and three years.

Wednesday's launch comes four years after Singapore put its first home-grown micro-satellite X-Sat in space. Smaller ones have subsequently been launched by NTU.

Singapore Space and Technology Association president Jonathan Hung said these moves prove that the Republic has "the right talent to take on the final frontier".

Hailing the latest launch as a milestone, Mr Hung said: "It validates our local technical domain expertise in indigenous satellite manufacturing capability, something not easily developed."

The latest developments will boost Singapore's space aspirations, which were laid out in 2013 when the Government opened the Office for Space Technology and Industry (OSTin) under the Economic Development Board (EDB).

 

OSTin's mission is to plan and execute economic strategies to grow Singapore's nascent space and satellite industry

The US-based, non-profit research organisation Space Foundation said the global space economy grew 27 per cent from 2008 to US$314 billion (S$443 billion) in 2013.

 

Experts here say that the space industry - and small-satellites field in particular - are a natural fit for land-scarce and talent-focused Singapore.

Mr Hung said Singapore develop more agile systems that enable "higher accuracy, more diverse applications and gaining recognition and leadership in specific subsystems".

"Singapore may well be in a position moving forward to also participate in regional and international satellite programmes, generating more commercial activity for our local players."