Bhutan’s first space borne satellite BHUTAN-1 launched on 29 June from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, United States of America was deployed from Kibo module of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Kyutech’s strategic partner in this endeavor, from the International Satellite Station (ISS) at 3:45 pm on August 10. The deployment took place together with CubeSat from Malaysia and the Philippines.
The normal transmission order is BHUTAN-1 (JG6YKL), MAYA-1 (JG6YKM) and UitMSat-1 (JG6KYN) and each satellite uses the same frequency of 437.375 MHz.
The three CubeSat are released at the same time, and the signal designed to attract attention to a specific location, the beacon signal from the CubeSats will interfere with each other as all the three CubeSats might turn on at the same time.
However, the kind of beacon signal each CubeSats emit will be slightly different from each other. In addition, the CubeSat is programmed in such a way that each CubeSat will wait for a certain period before transmitting the beacon signal.
Director, DCA with the Ministry of Information and Communication (MoIC), Karma Wangchuk, said, “With His Majesty the King’s vision to raise awareness on space science and technology, in empowering and improving the lives of the Bhutanese people, in 2016 engineers were sent to the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan to study space engineering and to participate in the BIRDS-2 Project.”
He said, “Four engineers from Bhutan designed and developed the CubeSat as part of their masters program at Kyutech. BHUTAN-1 is our first satellite entirely designed, built and tested by Bhutanese engineers with guidance from Kyutech.”
“After successful development and testing of BHUTAN-1, it was launched on 29 June and it was on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with other payload being sent to the ISS,” he said.
He also said the deployment is a significant milestone for Bhutan since it lays the foundation for a space technology program as envisioned by His Majesty the King. “While this is a small step into space for Bhutan, it is a tremendous national achievement and a proud moment for Bhutan,” he added.
An official from the Division of Telecom and Space, Department of Information Technology and Telecom (DITT), MoIC said, “Once released into low earth orbit, within few days, we will get the signal from the satellite and we can communicate with the satellite from the ground station.”
He said, “The speed of the earth and the satellite is different, but the satellite will pass around the country 4 to 5 times in a day and every time the satellite passes, we will have a window of 2 to 3 minutes to communicate with the satellite.”
The ground station for BHUTAN-1 is installed within MoIC premises and will be operated by DITT.
With the vision to motivate the youth and students to learn science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), His Majesty the King presented five numbers of KENWOOD handheld radio to the College of Science and Technology, Kharbandi, Jigme Namgyel Engineering College, Deothang, Sherubtse College, Kanglung, Gyalpozhing College of Information Technology, Gyalpozhing and Royal Thimphu College, Ngagiphu, Thimphu. The handheld radios are to be utilized in the Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS).
To mark the occasion, the ministry along with Bhutan Post also launched BHUTAN-1 commemorative stamps today.