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PhilSA launches Maya-2 into space

Progressing into the future of the Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite Project (BIRDS-4), the Philippines’ second cube satellite or nanosatellite, Maya-2, was successfully launched on February 21.

“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 Joel Joseph S. Marciano Jr, director general of the Philippine Space Agency.

Hosted by Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan, the BIRDS-4 satellite project aimed for a collaborated fabrication and projection between the Maya-2 CubeSat of the Philippines, the GuaraniSat-1 CubeSat of Paraguay, and the Tsuru CubeSat of Japan.


The three BIRDS-4 CubeSats (L-R) Maya-2 (Philippines), Tsuru (Japan), and GuaraniSat-1 (Paraguay). Photo from STAMINA4Space website courtesy of BIRDS-4 Project


According to Fortunato de la Peña, secretary of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the satellite took off from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Station in Virginia, United States, together with the nanosatellites of Japan and Paraguay.

At 1:36 a.m., the Maya-2 CubeSat departed aboard the S.S. Katherine Johnson Cynus spacecraft of the Northrop Grumman CRS-15 mission. The satellite is on the way to the International Space Station (ISS), and will be deployed to its targeted altitude in Low Earth Orbit upon reaching the ISS.

The Maya-2 CubeSat was developed by a team of three Filipinos pursuing their doctorate degrees in Space Systems Engineering and Space Engineering. Izrael Zenar C. Bautista, Mark Angelo C. Purio and Marloun Sejera, who make up the trio, are all scholars of the Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech) in Kitakyushu, Japan.


The three Filipino engineers of Maya-2 CubeSat (L-R) Mark Angelo C. Purio, Izrael Zenar C. Bautista and Marloun Sejera. Photo from STAMINA4Space website


Each member had big shoes to fill. Bautista had to keep track of the team’s work, from the planning phase up to the operation of the satellite. He also had to assess the feasibility of using the Perovskite solar cell in the space mission, which has a low cost but high yielding light harvest.

Purio was responsible for using a commercial-off-the-shelf camera to capture images of space. He was also affiliated in designing the standardized backplane board (BPB) that stabilized the bond of the boards.

Meanwhile, Sejera handled the communications of the satellite, while overseeing the APRS-DP mission which provides radio services to the community.

In the words of Professor Paul Jayson Co, project leader of the STAMINA4Space Space Science and Technology Proliferation through University Partnerships (STeP-UP), the store-and-forward payload Maya-2 possesses may be utilized to gather data from ground sensors for the analysis of weather and infectious diseases.

Moving forward, the Maya-2 satellite is hoped to deliver the country beneficial data and boost the country’s endeavor to utilize the potential of satellite technology in disaster and damage assessment and monitoring, weather forecasting, agriculture, and many more.

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