Kingdom Of Happiness Launched First Satellite, BHUTAN-1 Into Space
The crowd cheered as the Space X Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft bearing BHUTAN-1 lifted off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, USA.
By Tshering Palden | Kuensel
Bhutan’s first satellite, CubeSat BHUTAN-1, left earth for the International Space Station (ISS) on the afternoon of 29 June.
The Information and Communications Minister, secretary and officials watched in excitement the launch that was broadcast live on YouTube and NASA television.
Source: NASA Spaceflight
The crowd cheered as the Space X Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft bearing BHUTAN-1 lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, USA.
The visibly nervous officials made calls when the electricity went out about half an hour before the launch. Once it returned, the show was projected on a screen at the conference hall for about 50 people who gathered to witness the making of history.
BHUTAN-1 will arrive at the International Space Station on 2 July in the morning.
BHUTAN-1 was launched with other payloads that the rocket delivers to the ISS that include the BIRDS-2 CubeSats of the Philippines and Malaysia and more than 5,900 pounds of research hardware, crew supplies and spare parts for the ISS.
Details about BHUTAN-1
BHUTAN-1 has been developed by Bhutanese engineers at the Kyushu Institute of Technology as part of their Master’s Degree under the BIRDS-2 Project.
Source: Kuensel Online
The BIRDS project is a cross-border interdisciplinary satellite project for non-space faring countries supported by Japan.
BHUTAN-1 will remain on the ISS and will be released into low earth orbit with the other CubeSats in August this year.
Once released, BHUTAN-1 will become operational and can be tracked from the ground station at the Information and Communications Ministry, a press release from the ministry stated.
Functions of the BHUTAN-1
The satellite will operate at a low altitude of about 500km to 1,500km. With the help of two high-end cameras fixed on the satellite, it will take high quality photographs of the country, help examine the conditions of the glaciers, lakes, forest covers, provide basic communication services, and to study the radiation effect on satellites.
BHUTAN-1 will pass around the country four to five times in a day for three to four minutes. It has a lifespan of six to nine months.
“It will then be disposed,” an official from the MoIC said. However, other sources said that the satellite could last up to one to two years.
Initial estimates showed that the whole process from training the engineers to launching the nanosat and building a ground station in the country would cost around USD 280,000.
Under the BIRDS-2 Project that began in November 2016, the engineers along with participants from the Philippines and Malaysia built three 1U (10*10*10 cm) CubeSats.
Annually, the national broadcaster spends around Nu 9.5 million (M) to use the INSAT communication facilities to broadcast BBS TV throughout the country.
Bhutan Telecom also invests around Nu 3M to provide telecommunication services and the Department of Hydro-Met Services pays around Nu 1.2M every year for the GLOF early warning systems.
This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for the Bhutan Times.