Philippine’s First Microsatellite "Diwata-1" to be brought to the International Space Station via Orbital ATK Commercial Resupply Services Flight 6 (OA-6) Rocket Release

In 2014, the Philippine Government through the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) embarked on a research program to develop the necessary local expertise in space technology and allied emerging fields in science and engineering.

The flagship project of this effort is called the PhilMicrosat Program which is implemented by several departments in UP Diliman and DOST’s Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI). It also partnered with two Universities in Japan to develop the country’s first microsatellite – the 50-kg imaging satellite called DIWATA-1.

Assembled by nine young Filipino engineers stationed in Tohoku and Hokkaido University for the last 14 months, DIWATA-1 is set to be brought to the International Space Station (ISS) on March 23, 2016. At the ISS, it will be housed in the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM), nicknamed ‘Kibo’.

Towards the end of April 2016, the JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD) will release Diwata-1 into space at an altitude of 400 kilometers from the earth’s surface. DIWATA-1 carries four specialized cameras for various purposes including capabilities in imaging weather patterns, agricultural productivity and high resolution imaging of the country’s land and water resources.

The satellite is expected to be in orbit for approximately 20 months and will be imaging the country twice daily. And while still in orbit, the same research team is targeting to launch the second microsatellite (DIWATA-2) in late 2017 or early 2018.

Together with the microsatellite development is the installation of the satellite ground receiving station in Subic that is tasked to receive DIWATA-1 imagery as well as from selected commercial satellites. Another facility is currently being constructed is the UP Diliman Microsatellite Research and Instructional facility which will be the hub of training for future space technology research and development activities.

DIWATA-1’s delivery to the ISS is a momentous event for the Philippines especially to the research team and its partners. It is one step further in the country’s long journey towards developing homegrown science and technology expertise and finally put the Philippines in the list of nations that have the capacity of venturing into space and beyond.

The DIWATA-1 is one of the equipment in the payload of Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft scheduled to launch at 10PM on March 22, 2016 (EST) from Cape Canaveral in Florida. NASA TV coverage will start at 10am 23 March Philippine Standard Time which can be viewed at (DOST-PCIEERD, thru Estrella Z. Gallardo, PSciJourn MegaManila)