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Phl deploys cube satellites to space

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Maya-5 and Maya-6 are now ready to take on their mission!

The Philippines’ second batch of locally developed cube satellites (CubeSats) Maya-5 and Maya-6 were successfully released to space from the International Space Station (ISS) on 19 July 2023 at 3:00 p.m. PST as a part of the “Kibo” or Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) Small Satellite Orbital Deployer-26 (J-SSOD-26) CubeSat deployment mission.

Batch 2 of STeP-UP scholars: Front from left: Khazmir Camille Valerie Macaraeg, Anna Ruth Alvarez, Ronald Collamar, Joseph Jonathan Co, and Angela Clarisse Chua. Back from Top left, Genesis Remocaldo, Chandler Timm Doloriel, and Gio Asher Tagabi (Photo courtesy of STeP-UP/STAMINA4Space)

At around 4:34 PM after the deployment, the amateur radio satellite station at the University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) received its first beacon from Maya-5 and Maya-6. The teams will now closely monitor the health and status of the CubeSats in preparation for the execution of their respective missions as technology demonstration and educational platforms.

This latest development follows the CubeSats’ launch to the International Space Station (ISS) last 05 June 2023 at 11:47 PM PST aboard the SpaceX Dragon Falcon 9 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This launch is part of SpaceX’s 28th Commercial Resupply Mission, where they carried more than 7,000 pounds of research, hardware, and supplies to the ISS. The rocket autonomously docked to the ISS’s Harmony module on 06 June 2023 at 5:54 p.m PST.

The completed Maya-5 and Maya-6 flight models (FM) during the turnover ceremony to JAXA
Maya-5 and Maya-6 are 1U (10 x 10 x 10 cm) CubeSats weighing ~1.15 kilograms each.
Photo courtesy of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

Launch of SpaceX Falcon 9 last 05 June 2023 carrying CubeSats Maya-5 and Maya-6 to the
International Space Station
Photo captured via NASA Live stream

“Named after the revered Philippine bird, they symbolize our country’s commitment towards contributing to global scientific and technological advancement,” Engr. Valerie Macaraeg said during the deployment program.

The two 1.3 kg 1U CubeSats were developed under the Space Science and Technology Proliferation through University Partnerships (STeP-UP) Project of the STAMINA4Space Program. The scholars, namely, Joseph Jonathan Co (Project Manager), Anna Ruth Alvarez, Ronald Collamar, Angela Clarisse Chua, Chandler Timm Doloriel, Khazmir Camille Valerie Macaraeg, Genesis Remocaldo, and Gio Asher Tagabi, developed the satellites as part of the nanosatellite development track under the Master of Science (MS)/Master of Engineering (MEng) program of the UPD Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute (EEEI). The development of the CubeSats is in collaboration with the Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech) in Japan, with scholarship support from the DOST-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI).

Batch 2 of STeP-UP scholars
Top (L-R): Genesis Remocaldo, Chandler Timm Doloriel, and Gio Asher Tagabi
Bottom (L-R): Khazmir Camille Valerie Macaraeg, Anna Ruth Alvarez, Ronald Collamar, Joseph Jonathan Co, and Angela Clarisse Chua
Photo courtesy of STeP-UP/STAMINA4Space

DOST Secretary Renato Solidum Jr. emphasized the significance of this momentous event. “Our roadmap to putting the Philippines in the space race was long, but our investment in education and advocacy lead to a path of significant progress in the development of our country’s space industry.”

DOST Secretary Renato Solidum Jr. gave the go signal for the deployment of Maya-5 ang Maya-6
Captured from the JAXA Livestream

Maya-3 and Maya-4 Project Manager, Engr. Renzo Wee, shared his message on the successful deployment. “We would like to congratulate the team behind Maya-5 and Maya-6 satellite development for the successful deployment of these birds from the International Space Station. As we witness these fledglings leave their nest and soar through the skies, we are filled with immense awe and excitement,” he said.

“This accomplishment showcases the remarkable talent and ingenuity of the developers and also serves as a testament to the growing strength of our local space sector. We are one with the community in celebration of this significant milestone and are as excited about the possibilities and advancements that the next generation of Maya satellites will bring. Per Aspera Ad Astra!” he added.

University of the Philippines Chancellor Edgardo Carlo Vistan II also brought up the importance and support to space technology endeavors. “The two cube satellites will provide essential assistance in the collection of timely and relevant data that can be used in the sectors of agriculture, environment and natural resources, and disaster risk reduction and management, among others,” he said.

“The launching of this second pair of CubeSats is a solid testament to what our Filipino engineers and scientists can do. With appropriate and adequate support, they show their capability to develop and build satellites locally,” he added.

STeP-UP Batch 2 scholars joined by Assistant Professor Masui Hirokazu (middle)
as they received their Completion Certificates for the Advanced Satellite Testing Tutorial at
the Kyushu Institute of Technology
Photo courtesy of STeP-UP

What’s next for Maya-5 and Maya-6 now that it is in space?
The second batch of STeP-UP scholars shed light on the importance of the first few days of the satellites being in space.
“During the first 72 hours from release, we will be monitoring the health of the satellites in orbit. The hope is that within the first few passes, we will be able to receive their beacons, which will tell us significant information such as the status of antenna deployment and battery levels. Once functionalities are tested, the data to be acquired during the satellites’ time in orbit will also shine light on scientific questions and can be analyzed for future satellite developments in the Philippines. This is possible because of the cooperation of many ground station operators around the world,” they said.

Ground stations from different institutions have also been briefed last 17 July 2023 to help receive notifications once the satellites pass through their respective stations.
“We are excited to receive notifications from hams who are able to receive beacons and/or are able to use the digipeating capability. Lastly, we hope that Maya-5 and Maya-6 would inspire more Filipinos and other nations to engage with or get into the space technology field,” Engr. Valerie Macaraeg said during her JAXA video interview.

“Maya-5 and Maya-6 were developed not only for technological demonstration, but they are also a testament to the continuous efforts of people from different nations to pass down knowledge and wisdom in satellite development. Carrying an RGB camera, Store and Forward Mission, Automatic Packet Reporting System, Hentenna Mission, and the Experimental On-Board Computer, our team at the STAMINA4Space Program aims to verify the functionality of these experiments in space while serving the amateur radio community—a goal that will be carried on by the Philippine Space Agency in the years to come. As Maya-5 and Maya-6 commence their journey in the expanse of the cosmos, we extend our heartfelt thanks for the support of our mentors, families, and the Filipino people,” she added.

Maya-7, a 2U CubeSat (two-unit cube satellite), is also being developed through the Philippine Space Agency(PhilSA)’s ACCESS Nanosat or the Advancing Core Competencies and Expertise in Space Studies Nanosat Project. They successfully completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) of the Maya-7 satellite project on 29 June 2023.

As Secretary Solidum affirms DOST’s continuous support in the country’s space science and technology endeavors, he says that, “in this latest accomplishment, we prove time and time again that the investment of the FIlipino people will always return a wide range of benefits, especially in promoting scientific progress. We hope that with DOST’s support to space research activities, we will inspire young people to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, which is essential to keep our country’s economy strong and competitive.”

PhilSA Director General Dr. Marciano and personnel viewing the deployment of Maya05 and Maya-6 from the ISS
Photo courtesy of Dr. Joel Joseph Marciano

PhilSA Director General Joel Joseph Marciano Jr. shared his thoughts as he encapsulated these recent space science and technology milestones.

“The idea of building the Maya CubeSats began with the desire to promote even greater access to space technologies for Filipinos. With the successful deployment of Maya-5 and 6 from the ISS, we remain true to this ideal,” he said.

“I salute and congratulate the scholars, researchers, project managers, and administrators in STeP-UP and STAMINA4Space in UP Diliman and DOST, and the collaborators and mentors in Kyutech, UPD-Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute and PhilSA. Through hands-on development of small satellites, we not only build valuable capabilities, but hopefully also bring inspiration to young people to create impactful innovations,” he added.

As a final note, DG Marciano highlighted PhilSA’s future plans to build on the accomplishment of the second batch of STeP-UP Scholars. He said, “PhilSA is committed to expanding these efforts further. Work on the next generation of Maya nanosatellites, starting with Maya-7, has commenced with a new batch of graduate students who are recipients of PhilSA AD ASTRA scholarships collaborating with the Maya-5 and 6 scholars and PhilSA engineers. Maya-7 will be a 2U CubeSat capable of carrying out even more complex space missions.”

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