Looks like we will have another bird in orbit soon.
The Philippines launched its second cube satellite to the International Space Station today, February 21, 2021 at 1:36AM PHT aboard the S.S. Katherine Johnson spacecraft. The ISS is the satellite’s final pit stop before it reaches its targeted altitude in low earth orbit, by which time the space stations deploys it at a date to be determined later on.
The 1.3-kilogram CubeSat–dubbed the Maya-2–was launched to the ISS along with two identical CubeSats from Japan and Paraguay. All three were developed under the Kyushu Institute of Technology’s 4th Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite (BIRDS-4) Project, which aims to test commercial off-the-shelf components to prove their worthiness in space. Maya-2 was designed and developed by Filipino scholars who were sent to Kyutech through the Space Science and Technology Proliferation through University Partnerships (STeP-UP) Project of the Space Technology and Applications Mastery, Innovation and Advancement (STAMINA4Space) Program . STAMINA4Space is funded by the Philippines’ Department of Science and Technology ( DOST ), monitored by DOST’s Philippine Council for Innovation, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development ( DOST-PCIEERD), and implemented by DOST’s Advanced Science and Technology Institute ( OST-ASTI ), and the University of the Philippines Diliman.
Like its predecessor Maya-1 (decommissioned on November 23, 2020), Maya-2 aims to collect data remotely by its store-and-forward (S&F) mechanism. Aboard the Maya-2 is a camera for image and video capture, an Automatic Packet Reporting System Message Digipeater (APRS-DP), attitude determination and control units for active attitude stabilization and control demonstrations, Perovskite solar cells and Latchup-detection chip.
“Maya-2 is [a part of a] well executed plan that Maya-1 will not remain as Maya-1 but it will continue to grow and improve as a series of Mayas – as a platform to explore and educate Filipino generations of engineers and scientists in the meaningful and peaceful use of outer space,” said engineer Joven C. Javier, who led the BIRDS-2 team that launched Maya-1, UiTMSAT-1, and BHUTAN-1.
Why bother with a satellite during the pandemic?
Like everything else in the past year, development on Maya-2 was affected by the pandemic. “Not being able to gather physically also add to the challenges we faced during the final stages of the project as most of the work such as troubleshooting and finalizing software and satellite assembly were done with less people from the team,” notes engineer Mark Angelo Purio. However the development for the project still matters, according Dr. Maricor Soriano, STAMINA4Space program leader. “More than the product, sustaining local cubesat research and development potentially leads to
a systems engineering mindset among our researchers , local partners that can co-develop our space industry, and enhanced Science Technology and Engineering curricula in K-12 and higher education.”
In the meantime, according BIRDS-4 project manager Izrael Bautista the team is finalizing the first 24 hours, the first week, and the first month of the mission operation. “We are also preparing to coordinate with ground stations of the BIRDS network to ask for their help and cooperation in operating the satellites once deployed in orbit,” he adds.
The Philippines can anticipate more Maya launches in the future with Maya-3, Maya-4, Maya-5, and Maya-6 already in their respective design and development phases under the STeP-UP project led by professor Paul Jason Co.
“To do something for the first time is great, but to be able to do it again and innovate is greater. We take pride in the launch of Maya-2, the successor to Maya-1 and the Philippines’ latest
milestone in creating value in space for and from Filipinos and for the world,” said Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) Director General Joel Joseph S. Marciano Jr. “We congratulate our BIRDS-4 Filipino engineers — IZ, Mark, and Marloun — and the rest of the STAMINA4Space team.”