Two new Singapore satellites up in space, designed and built by NTU students

Director of NTU Satellite Research Centre Assoc Prof Low Kay Soon speaking to some of his students in the project who launched the VELOX-I into space. Singapore now has two new satellites orbiting in space, built by Nanyang Technological Univers
Director of NTU Satellite Research Centre Assoc Prof Low Kay Soon speaking to some of his students in the project who launched the VELOX-I into space. Singapore now has two new satellites orbiting in space, built by Nanyang Technological University (NTU). -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE- Singapore now has two new satellites orbiting in space, built by Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

The latest satellites, VELOX-I and VELOX-PIII were launched into space on a rocket from India at 12.21pm Singapore time on Monday, said Associate Professor Low Kay Soon, lead researcher of the project at a press briefing on Thursday.

Designed and built by NTU students and researchers at the NTU Satellite Research Centre, the VELOX-I is a nanosatellite which weighs 7kg. VELOX P-III piggybacks on its bigger brother, the VELOX-I, as one unit but will be separated about two months later.

The satellites carry some new sensors built by NTU students. They want to test if these new products can withstand harsh conditions in space so they can be used to build commercial satellites in future. VELOX-I also carries a camera chip designed by the NTU students. This chip is lighter than commercial cameras currently used in space and could reduce the cost of launching a satellite. The cost of launching one goes up with weight, said Prof Low.

NTU currently has two other satellites in space. One is used for earth imaging and monitoring haze hotspots, the other is used to test new technologies like sun sensors in space.

VELOX-I has successfully transmitted data such as its location and power status back to earth. "Everything is running smoothly," confirmed Prof Low. The team is monitoring the satellites' movements from a mission control centre in NTU. It has several computer screens displaying satellite data.

NTU will also be building Singapore's first weather satellite funded by the Economic Development Board. Named VELOX-CI, it is a fridge-sized 130kg satellite which will be used to study tropical climate. It is due for completion in September next year.