PH launches second cube satellite into space

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 21) — The Philippines launched its second cube satellite early Sunday morning (Philippine time) at the International Space Station aboard the S.S. Katherine Johnson Cynus spacecraft.

The Maya-2, joined by two other cube satellites from Japan and Paraguay in its space launch, was designed by Filipino scholars who are taking their doctoral degree in space engineering at the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan. They were sent through the Department of Science and Technology's Space Technology and Applications Mastery, Innovation and Advancement (STAMINA4Space) Program.

The DOST said Maya-2 is "a technology demonstration and educational platform geared to collect data remotely by Store-and-Forward Mechanism."

The 1.3-kilogram satellite contains a camera for image and video capture, an Automatic Packet Reporting System Message Digipeater, attitude determination and control units for active attitude stabilization and control demonstrations, Perovskite solar cells and Latchup-detection chip.

"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 Director General Joel Marciano Jr. in a statement.

The date of Maya-2's deployment into the orbit has yet to be announced but STAMINA4Space Program Leader Dr. Maricor Soriano emphasized its space launch solidifies the country's commitment in sustaining local cube satellites research, even during a pandemic.

"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," said Soriano.

Maya-2 engineer Mark Angelo Purio said the team encountered hurdles in building the satellite amid the pandemic. The development of Maya-2 under Kyutech's 4th Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite Project started in 2018.

"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," Purio said.

Maya-1, the predecessor of Maya-2, was launched into space in June 2018 and was deployed into the orbit two months after. It returned to earth in December 2020. The country also launched its first two microsatellites, Diwata-1 in 2016 and Diwata-2 in 2018. Diwata-1 was decommissioned in March 2020, while Diwata-2 remains in space.