The Department of Information Technology and Telecom (DITT) under Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) has been receiving ALIVE signal from the CubeSat, Bhutan’s first space borne satellite BHUTAN-1, which was deployed from the International Satellite Station (ISS) on 10th August last year.
A CubeSat is a miniaturized satellite for space research that is made up of multiples of 10×10×11.35 cm cubic units and a mass of 1.33 kilograms. The Bhutan-1 will be in orbit for 6 to 9 months in low altitude before it disintegrates in space. The satellite uses the frequency of 437.375 MHz.
In addition, the CubeSat is programmed in such a way that each CubeSat will wait for a certain period before transmitting the beacon signal.
Meanwhile, an official from DITT said that the ministry has been receiving the ALIVE signals, 3 to 5 times a day, as the satellite passes through. The signals stay up to 7 minutes.
However, he said that receiving of signal from the satellite, in a day, depends upon the elevation angles. “If the elevation angle is higher then we get better signals from the satellite,” he added.
According to the ministry, this is one of the activities, in line with His Majesty’s vision to generate interest amongst the youth in the area of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
In addition, there are plans to send space engineers to schools and colleges so they can interact with the students. “We have already provided the equipment, and very soon, we are planning to deploy the space engineers to the schools and colleges so that they can further teach the students how to engage with the provided equipment,” the DITT official said.
In an earlier interview with the Director, DCA with the ministry, 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.” Three space engineers are back in the country from their studies while one is going to continue with PHD program.
The four space engineers from Bhutan, Yeshey Choden, Kiran Kumar Pradhan, Cheki Dorji and Pooja Lepcha have designed and developed the CubeSat as part of their masters program at Kyutech.
BHUTAN-1 is Bhutan’s 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 on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with other payloads being sent to the ISS. While this is a small step into space for Bhutan, it is a tremendous national achievement and a proud moment for Bhutan,” the official added.
With the vision to motivate the youth and students to learn STEM, last year, 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). The ground station for BHUTAN-1 is installed within MoIC premises and is being operated by DITT.