KATHMANDU: Nepal launched its first ever satellite under “Birds 3 project” on 18th April, 2:31 am, named NepaliSat-1, under the assistance of Kyutech, Japan.
The nano satellite was launched by CygnusNG11 mission, which was operated by Virginia Spaces Midatlantic Regional Spaceport at National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA)Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) in the eastern shore of Virginia, United States.
Antares rocket took the satellite to the International Space Station (ISS) by cargo. NASA had live streamed the launching of satellite at 2:31 am.
Satellite Ravana-1 of Sri Lanka and Uguisv of Japan were also launched alongside NpealSat-1, under the Birds 3’s satellite launch to ISS project.
The NepaliSat-1 weighs around 1.3 Kilograms. Being a nano satellite, it has limited capacity. It will be placed at 400km distance from the Earth’s surface. The satellite is initially placed in the space for further tests and after the completion of test, which is anticipated to conclude by the second week of June, it will be sent to the low orbit.
The satellite will revolve around the earth for four times in twenty-four hours. In each revolution, it will be taking pictures of Nepal for six to ten minutes.
The satellite is expected to revolve around the earth for six months. It contains the Nepali flag and the logo of Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST). The names of scientists involved in the development of the satellite are also mentioned in it.
Two Nepali engineers, AvashMaskey and HareramShrestha, are the pioneerto develop the satellite. AvashMaskey is pursuing PhD in Space Technology and Engineering and HareramShrestha is pursuing master’s degree in electrical engineering at the Kyushu Institute.
To bring the dream of launching Nepal’s first ever satellite into reality, a team of seven members was led by AvashMaskey and students from Sri Lanka, Japan, Mangolia and Bhutan had assisted in the process while senior scientists from Kyutech had supervised the work.
Kyutech Japan is the world’s number one academic operator of small satellites.
Nepal invested around Rs. 20 million for the launching of satellite. According to NAST, the satellite holds five mega-pixel camera, which will come into use to capture Nepal’s topography and magnetometer. The satellite will be used to disseminate information about the mountains, hills, Terai, glaciers, flood and other geographical facets as such.
Pictures captured by the nano satellite will aid in assessing information regarding floods, landslides, wildfires, epicenters of earthquake and other natural disasters as such.
Nepal has also been constructing a ground station at NAST. The images and data captured by the satellite will be sent to the ground station. The construction is anticipated to complete by the first week of June.
Nepal had been striving to send its first nano satellite to the space since mid 2018s. The engineering module of the satellite was completed in August while the environment test was concluded in December, 2018.
Until now, Nepal had been using satellite link of other countries for information, communication and other purposes as such. Nepal had to pay a huge sum of money for the usage of satellites.
With this event, the Nepalis are happy to see their nation taking a step forward to overcome the compromise on national security and huge cost bearing.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had congratulated the scientists and institutions involved in the development of satellite and he also said that it is a matter of prestige for the nation to have its own satellite.
“Though a humble beginning, with the launching of NepaliSat-1, Nepal has entered the space era. I wish to congratulate all who were involved right from the development to its launching thereby enhancing the prestige of our country,” read Oli’s tweet.
RabindraDhakal, Chief of technical department, NAST said that launching of NepaliSat-1 was a milestone for Nepal. “This is a remarkable achievement. We have now moved forward towards developing larger and more efficient satellites,” said Dhakal.
“It may not be a big achievement if compared to other countries, but it definitely is a great source of inspiration to Nepali youth to cater more satellites with wide range of capabilities to the ISS,” said SafalTimalsena, an engineering student.
The NAST officials also informed that the satellite will be used as a tool to contemplate the development of more advanced satellite in the near future.
Launching a satellite, however, was a thirty-five year old dream of Nepal. In 1983, Nepal had introduced the project of launching satellite by 2015. After failing to complete the work within the given date, the government had extended the deadline.
“This is due to lack of technical and financial assistance,” said an official of Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.
Nepal also signed an agreement in March with French Satellite operator Thales Alenia Space. As per the agreement, this satellite will be used for disaster management, to provide fast Internet service and to strengthen the economic growth of the nation.
Gokul Prasad Baskota, Minister, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, and Jean Baptiste Leomoyne, secretary, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, had signed the Letter of Interest on 5th March in Paris.
Another group of four students is also in the process to launch Nepali satellite named Nepal PQ-1 by 2020..
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