The Philippines reached another milestone in its space technology program with the launch of the country’s two cube satellites to the International Space Station (ISS).
The Maya-3 and Maya-4 left Earth aboard SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 3:14 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 29 (Manila time).
The Mayas were among the payloads of the SpaceX Commercial Resupply Mission-23 (SpX-23) which transported supplies, equipment and various experiments to the ISS.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said the SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon will rendezvous and dock at the ISS on Aug. 30.
The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) said the “CubeSats mark a new milestone in Philippine CubeSat development, being the first batch of university-built satellites” developed by Filipino engineers.
The Mayas were designed and developed by the first batch of scholars under the Space Technology and Applications Mastery, Innovation, and Advancement (STAMINA4Space) Program’s Space Science and Technology Proliferation through University Partnerships (STeP-UP).
They are Christy Raterta, Marielle Magbanua-Gregorio, Gladys Bajaro, Lorilyn Daquioag, Renzo Wee, Bryan Custodio, Judiel Reyes, and Derick Canceran.
The STeP-UP Project is a graduate program with a nano-satellite engineering track housed within the University of the Philippines-Diliman (UP) Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute.
Funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the project is implemented by the UP Diliman in partnership with the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan.
Philippines Space Agency (PhilSA) Director General Joel Marciano expressed elation over the country’s latest achievement in space technology development.
“When we sent Filipino scholars to Kyutech to work on the first Maya cubesat in 2016, we committed to the idea of building and innovating future Maya cubesats in our own labs,” Marciano said in a Twitter post.
“With Maya-3 [and] Maya-4 lifted up to the ISS today via SpaceX/CRS-23, we achieve that proximate objective.”
According to the STAMINA4Space, the Mayas measure 10 centimeter (cm) by 10 cm by 11.35 cm with an estimated mass of 1.15 kilograms each, which classifies them as nano-satellites.
Their missions include technology demonstration, as well as image and video capture, among others.
Both satellites are equipped with two deployable antennas, solar array panels, Global Positioning System (GPS) chip, and a lever switch.
They carry two five megapixels cameras to capture images of the country, and for visual assessment of landmass and bodies of water, it said.
This historic feat follows the successful deployment of the country’s fourth satellite and second nano-satellite, Maya-2, into orbit from the ISS on March 14.