Vietnam’s coast observation satellite goes into orbit from Japan

By Staff reporters   January 17, 2019 | 08:46 pm PT
Vietnamese satellite MicroDragon was successfully launched from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture in southern Japan Friday morning.

[Video by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)]

The satellite, built by a team of Vietnamese engineers with help from Japanese experts and launched aboard Japan’s Epsilon 4 launcher, will be used to observe Vietnam’s coast line.

MicroDragon measures 50x50x50 centimeters (19.6 inches) and weighs around 50 kilograms (110 pounds).

It will help evaluate water quality, locate fisheries resources and monitor changes to serve aquaculture.

It will also detect cloud coverage and aerosols, collect ground-based sensor signals and transmit them to stations on Earth.

In 2013 the Vietnam National Space Center (VNSC) sent 36 engineers to five top universities in Japan for master’s programs in satellite technology as part of a joint Vietnam-Japan project to prevent natural disasters and climate change using satellites.

Using official development assistance from Japan and counter capital from the Vietnamese government, the engineers worked with Japanese experts to build MicroDragon in Japan.

The satellite marks a milestone for Vietnam in building satellites. The VNSC told the media earlier that the satellite is expected to provide imagery of a specific area within six to 12 hours compared with at least two days when is it obtained from a commercial satellite imagery provider.

Vietnam sent its first indigenous satellite into space in 2013. The one-kilogram PicoDragon was in space for three months. The country had launched four satellites before that, but all made by foreign companies.

Plans are underway to build LOTUSat-2 (500 kg) by 2022, which would place Vietnam among the leading countries in the region in terms of space technology, alongside Indonesia and Malaysia, Pham Anh Tuan, general director of the VNSC, said.

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