Thursday, April 18, 2019

Nepal’s first ever satellite launched into space

NepaliSat-1 – Nepal’s first satellite – has been launched into space at 2:31 am on Wednesday by the Antares rocket, which carried the Cygnus cargo aircraft from the Virginia Air and Space Center of National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Launched from the Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in the US, NepaliSat-1 – a cube satellite that weighs 1.3 kg – is supposed to reach the International Space Station at 10:45 pm on Saturday. It will gather detailed geographical information Nepal.
Similar satellites from Japan and Sri Lanka were also launched alongside NepaliSat-1.
The nano satellite is expected soon to start rotating around the earth’s orbit to collect information about Nepal's topography and earth’s magnetic field. The satellite is also expected to help develop more advanced satellites in the future.
NepaliSat-1 was launched under the ‘BIRDS-3 satellite launch to International Space Station project’, according to Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST). The BIRDS project has been designed in association with the United Nations with the aim of helping countries launch their first satellite.
Developed by two Nepali students Abhas Maskey and Hariram Shrestha at Japan’s Kyushu Institute of Technology, NepalSat-1 bears the Nepali flag and the logo of NAST, which also claimed that the nano satellite is equipped with a five megapixel camera to capture Nepal’s topography and a magnetometer to collect data related to the earth’s magnetic field.
"The satellite will first reach the International Space Station," the NAST informed, adding that it will then start rotating around the earth after a month. "The images and data will be sent by the satellite to the ground station at NAST, which is currently under construction."
But the NAST hopes that the ground station will be ready before the nano satellite starts rotating. "We will also be able to receive information from other satellites which have been and will be launched under the Birds project," added the NAST. "The satellite will allow NAST to learn the process of sending and receiving data and information to and from space."
NepaliSat-1 is scheduled to be released from the cargo spacecraft into the lower orbit of International Space Station in the second week of June. Once released into its orbit, the satellite will revolve around the earth four times a day. The orbit lies approximately 400-km above the earth. It is expected to take pictures of Nepal for six to 10 minutes during each revolution. NepaliSat 1 is expected to revolve around the earth for at least six months. long with providing images and data, the launch of the satellite marks the beginning for Nepal to test its capacity in the space.
Today morning – hours after the launch of the nano satellite into space – Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli tweeted: “Though a humble beginning, with the launching of NepaliSat-1 Nepal has entered the Space-Era. I wish to congratulate all those scientists and institutions that were involved right from the development to its launching thereby enhancing the prestige of our country."
The total cost from developing the satellite to launching it and constructing the ground station is said to be Rs 20 million, which was provided by the government through NAST.
A group of four engineering graduates are also working to launch another Nepali satellite ‘Nepal PQ-1’ in 2020.

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