The development of Bhutan’s first satellite, a CubeSat called Bhutan-1, has been completed and will be delivered to the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in April, for launch.
This update was shared during a video press conference earlier this week that was organised by the Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech), to officially announce the status of the development of CubeSat BHUTAN-1.
A CubeSat is a miniaturized satellite for space research that is made up of multiples of 10×10×11.35 cm cubic units. CubeSats have a mass of no more than 1.33 kilograms.
The Bhutan-1 will be in orbit for 6 to 9 months in low altitude before it disintigrates in space, an official of the department of information technology and telecom (DITT), communications ministry, said.
Bhutan, along with Malaysia and Philippines, is currently participating in the second Joint Global Multi-Nations BIRDS Project, called BIRDS-2 and is represented by four engineers from the Division of Telecom and Space, DITT.
The BIRDS Project is a Joint Global Multi-National Birds Satellite project, which has helped many developing countries to build their capabilities in space technologies and is initiated by the Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech).
The four Bhutanese space engineers – Yeshey Choden, Kiran Kumar Pradhan, Cheki Dorji and Pooja Lepcha – pursued a two-year master’s programs in space engineering at the Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech). The CubeSat is expected to aid in research and was built by the students as a part of their Master’s program.
The report from DITT states that the participating countries are developing identical CubeSats and Bhutan’s Cubesat (first satellite) is called BHUTAN-1. “This Project is a good opportunity for Bhutan to build, launch and operate Bhutan’s first space-borne satellite, thus paving the way for Bhutan to move forward in the field of space and satellite technology. This also marks Bhutan’s first step towards development of Bhutan’s Space Science and Technology Program, which is a vision of His Majesty the King.”
Communications secretary Dasho Karma W Penjor thanked Kyutech for their efforts and support, and congratulated the team members of the BIRDS-2 project for their contribution, hard work and perseverance.
After the launch, a space agency is also expected to be setup within the information and communications ministry.
Training the four space engineers, building and launching the CubeSat and building a ground station is expected to cost the government around USD 280,000.