Making news

Satellite rollouts mark major steps forward for Vietnam’s aerospace industry

NanoDragon, a nano-layer cubesat satellite developed by the Vietnam National Space Centre (VNSC) under the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, is scheduled to be launched into orbit from Japan on October 1.

The 3.8-kilogramme satellite will be sent into outer space from the Uchinoura Space Center in Japan’s Kagoshima prefecture, following the launch of the 1-kilogramme microsatellite PicoDragon and the 50-kg satellite MicroDragon, also developed by the VNSC, in 2013 and 2019, respectively.

In 2023, LOTUSat-1, an earth observation satellite manufactured by Japan under a VNSC project, is expected to be launched, making it the first radar observation satellite of Vietnam.

These mark the first major steps forward taken by the country’s fledgling aerospace industry.

PicoDragon was completely built in Vietnam by a group of local researchers who had zero experience in the field, said VNSC General Director Assoc. Prof., Dr. Pham Anh Tuan. They were experts in different areas of the science-technology industry before gathering for the project, so they got shaky at first and started to learn everything from scratch, he said.

MicroDragon, meanwhile, was created in a more professional environment in Japan with 36 Vietnamese engineers in support of Japanese professors and more advanced technologies, according to Tuan.

NanoDragon was completely made in Vietnam and by Vietnamese engineers from the VNSC, from the stage of design through manufacturing, testing and others.

Dr. Le Xuan Huy, VNSC Deputy Director and a member of the research team, said NanoDragon is yet to reach expectation as it was developed with limited infrastructure. To partly fix the problems, the team had to ask for cooperation from foreign partners to have some parts of the project done overseas, he added.

The developers expect the satellite will function well to monitor marine vehicles with an automatic identification system and send relating data back to the ground.

Vietnam should view the aerospace as one of the five spaces it must master to be capable of safeguarding the national interests, Tuan said. Aerospace technologies require big resources, from capital to human resources and time, to ensure its balanced and sustainable development, he noted, adding that to boost the space science and industry, the country needs to stimulate demand for related technologies.

NanoDragon is the result of a project to design, manufacture, launch and test operation of a nano-sized microsatellite under the national space science and technology programme in the 2016-2020 period.

The government has recently approved a strategy for the development and application of aerospace science and technology by 2030 with an aim to expand the use of these technologies, master the design and manufacturing technologies of earth observation satellites, and support start-ups in the field.

Vietnam’s mission of conquering the space will be of the future generation but the mission to form an innovation culture and nurture passion for science among young people belongs to that of today, Tuan stressed./.