DOST chief to gov’t: ’Stronger, continuing’ budgetary support for space technology program

With the successful launch of the country’s third and fourth nanosatellites to the International Space Station (ISS), Maya-3 and Maya-4, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) expressed hope on Sunday, Aug. 29, that the government will continue investing in country’s space technology program.

Dela Pena

DOST Secretary Fortunato “Boy” de la Peña expressed elation over the launch of the country’ first university-built cube satellites to the ISS on Sunday.

“We are very glad that we are meeting our targets and schedules for our milestones in the country's space technology program. The collaboration among DOST, the Philippine Space Agency and UP (University of the Philippines) Diliman has been working quite well,” he told the Manila Bulletin after the launch of the nanosatellites on Sunday.

Maya-3 and Maya-4 were launched to the ISS aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket’s Dragon C208 on Sunday. They were designed and developed by the first batch of scholars under the Space Technology and Applications Mastery, Innovation, and Advancement (STAMINA4Space) Program: Project 3 - Space Science and Technology Proliferation through University Partnerships (STeP-UP).

“The results of our human resource development program are even beyond our expectations considering the difficult working environment where we are in right now,” de la Peña said.

“Our country partners like Japan are saying that we are catching up fast. I hope that government budgetary support will be stronger and continuing.”

De la Peña had described as “pale" the country’s research and development (R&D) funds compared to its Southeast Asian neighbours.

During the three-day Philippine Research, Development, and Innovation Conference (PRDIC) in April, he said the agency’s R&D funds only comprise 0.16 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) compared to Vietnam which is at 0.44 percent and Singapore which is at two percent of GDP on R&D.

The cube satellites were supposed to be launched to the ISS on Saturday, Aug. 28. The launch was rescheduled Sunday, Aug. 29 “due to weather."

The launch was part of the SpaceX Commercial Resupply Mission-23 (SpX-23) to send scientific research and technology demonstrations to the ISS.