Jun 15, 2019 | Updated: 11:54 AM EDT

The Philippine Space Agency is Nearing Liftoff

May 24, 2019 09:40 AM EDT


The Philippine Senate recently passed-with an 18-0 vote-the Philippine Space Act which seeks to create the Philippine Space Agency or PhilSA, tasked to plan, develop and promote the national space program. The Philippine House of Representatives also passed its version of the measure last December.

The Philippine Space Act would be the country's primary strategic roadmap for space development and will embody the country's goal of becoming a space-capable and space-faring nation within the next decade. The policy will focus on national security and development, hazard management and climate studies, space research and development, space industry capacity building, space education and awareness, and international cooperation. The PhilSA will be allotted 30 hectares of land within the Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga and Tarlac for its office and research facilities. The PhilSA may also establish additional offices, research facilities and launch sites as necessary.

The new agency will receive two billion Philippine pesos a year in the first five years of the effectivity of the law. This will be sourced from the income of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority. The PhilSA will also be given one billion Philippine pesos from the national budget as its initial operating fund.

If signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte, the PhilSA will absorb the functions of the Philippines Space Science Education Program of the Science Education Institute, which is currently under the Department of Science and Technology.

The Philippines is also part of the Asian Micro-satellite Consortium, a group of space agencies and universities dedicated to developing micro-satellite technology and data sharing. Under this agreement, 50 microsatellites from various schools and institutions in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam will be launched.

"Space technology is tough, challenging, it's of course, a new area for our country. And we thought the best way we can get our hands dirty and get more experience is through building satellites. It's not sort of sending people to the moon, and space exploration. It's using, building something that can have some application," said the director of Department of Science and Technology's Advanced Science and Technology Institute or DOST-ASTI, Dr. Joel Marciano.

The country's involvement with space technology could be traced as far back as 1987, when it procured broadcast satellite AGILA-1. Originally launched by Indonesian company PT Pasifik Satelit Nusantara, it was bought by the Philippines to enhance communication for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit at the time. 

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