The latest two satellites launched by NTU EEE just hit their one-year mark in space on 16 Dec 2016, since being launched last year. Triumphantly, both satellites have flown a combined 10,000 times around the Earth and travelled 400 million km. Most importantly, to date, our satellites have carried out thousands of successful missions – from data collection to satellite verification and testing operations.
The larger of the two satellites, the Velox-CI weighing 123kg takes climate measurements such as atmospheric temperature, humidity and pressure – and evaluates a new, precise navigation system.
Meanwhile, the considerably smaller Velox-II, weighs a tenth of the Velox-CI, at 12kg. Notwithstanding its size, the Velox-II is significantly the first of NTU's six satellites to carry a commercial payload. It is also testing out a new communications technology, developed by home-grown satellite technology developer Addvalue Technologies.
Known as the Inter-Satellite Data Relay System, it overcomes a major hurdle in satellite communications systems by allowing the satellite to provide on-demand communication with the ground station even when it is not within range.
“More real-time reaction can be made on the ground to combat the haze problem that has been plaguing our region for years," commented Mr Tan Kai Pang, Addvalue's chief operating and technology officer.
The executive director of NTU EEE’s Satellite Research Centre, Mr Lim Wee Seng, said: "These completed space experiments have further enhanced the university's satellite building capabilities, making its next generation of nanosatellites more advanced and reliable, (having capabilities) such as a highly precise location and navigation system, as well as on-demand satellite communication."
The Singapore Government has said the space and satellite sector is one of the new industry clusters that it will focus on growing.
In Singapore, there are now about 40 space-related companies, including local and locally-based foreign types, said Singapore Space and Technology Association president Jonathan Hung. He added: "(The industry) has grown about 30 per cent over the past decade. There has been an increase in local SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) with adjacent capabilities joining the fray and supporting satellite developments.
This pool is important as they give confidence to more established international space players that Singapore can support their technical needs."