Table of Contents Hide
Teacher-researcher Wilfredo K. Pardorla Jr. of Saint Cecilia’s College-Cebu Inc. is very inspired from the experience and knowledge he acquired from Samara University’s 14th International Summer Space School in Russia, saying that it helped broaden his horizon in space satellite technology.
“Samara University offers one of the best aerospace engineering courses. It is like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US. They had built in-house and launched their own satellites and nanosatellites, such as AIST-1, AIST-2, AIST-2D, Samsat-218, Samsat-QB50, etc,” he said in an e-mail interview with the BusinessMirror.
It was a milestone for Pardorla for being the first and only Filipino to qualify in the elite space program. It was made possible with the support from the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Industrial, Energy, Emerging Technologies Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (Unoosa).
Samara University is one of the best institutions that offer aerospace education courses in the world. The university established the International Summer Space School in 2003 with the Progress Rocket and Space Center and the Volga Branch of the Russian Academy of Cosmonauts, and is supported by Unoosa, the DOST-PCIEERD said in a news release.
Pardorla pointed out in the interview that the space program had already achieved milestones since its conception in 2003, such as the Young Engineering Satellite (YES) 2 international project and 14 PhD degrees and 60 master degrees.
Qualifying program; nanosat
From March 26 to April 7 Pardorla participated in a two-week distant-education training program—the first stage of the summer space school—along with 200 final year undergraduates, master’s degree students, PhD students, young researchers and engineers
On April 12 the number of participants was narrowed down to 40 after an analysis of test results from the first stage of training.
Pardorla was among the selected participants invited to Samara University in Russia for the second stage of the summer space school. It was a workshop program from August 20 to 31 with lectures, presentations, roundtables, and group projects on the design and operation of nanosatellites, exuding the summer space school’s theme this year, “Future Space Technologies and Experiments: From a mission idea to a nanosatellite project.”
In this year’s 14th International Summer Space School, Pardorla and his batchmates came up with four nanosatellite mission proposals with their respective teams.
He and his comembers from India, Ethiopia, Mexico, Peru and Tunisia worked on the Nanosatellite for Thermospheric Atomic Composition and Density Measurements I Nanosat, which aims to study the composition of the upper and lower thermosphere through mass spectrometry.
“All the knowledge we had gained from the summer space school was tested in applicative manner through a nanosatellite project work that underwent defense with the panel of experts from Samara University and other universities. This had incorporated mission analysis, 3D simulations assembling and testing and modeling nanosatellite functionality, calculations of power, link and mass budgets, etc.,” he said.
Opened new doors
Pardorla said his Russian scholarship on satellite technology opened new doors for his career that will enable him to participate in pushing space science in the country.
Since he is just a tyro in space science, he admitted that the training in Samara University was a big boost to his study in satellite technology.
After his Russian stint, Pardorla is not resting his on his laurels as he plans to pursue more professional and technical fields so he could help in enhancing the proposed Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) in the coming years.
The bills creating the PhilSA are being discussed in the two houses of Congress.
Moreover, he is expected to train and collaborate with students, researchers and engineers specializing in satellite technology applications (STA), propose programs and missions for nanosatellite applications and share what he have learned during S&T events.
“With the learning that I had, I am certain that I can already help develop the field of space science here in the country and in my institution, especially in nanosatellites/cubesat programs. We are one step higher in a achieving a cubesat project implementation that will be assembled and done in-house in some of our universities in the Philippines,” he said.
The country’s foray in space exploration was boosted with the launch of the first Filipino-made microsatellite called Diwata-1 in April 2016.
Diwata-1 was assembled by nine Filipino scientists and engineers in collaboration with Japan’s Tohoku and Hokkaido universities, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, under the Philippine Scientific Earth Observation Micro-satellite Program.
The 50-kilogram microsatellite, with the size of a coffee table, has captured thousands of photographs taken over the course of 5,000 passes around Earth. These images can be used for disaster management, crop inventory, monitoring of territorial waters of the country for security and others.
Diwata 2 is expected to be launched in the last quarter of this year.
At the same time, Maya-1, a 1U or 1.75-inches, cube satellite that was developed by Filipino engineers in Japan, was deployed into orbit from the International Space Station (ISS) on August 10.
Maya-1’s possible applications are collecting data to generate early warnings for landslides and flash floods, complementing systems for monitoring health conditions of people in remote areas, and systems for tracking endangered species like the Philippine eagle, and fishing vessels.
Space tech application
Pardorla noted that the knowledge he acquired in Russia would be a big help in the development of future space technology applications in the country, especially in the forthcoming establishment of PhilSA.
“If possible, I’m planning to conduct workshops in partnership with the DOST-PCIEERD and with some universities to maximize the scope for nanosatellite trends in the country,” he said.
It should be noted that Pardorla, together with his comentors and high-school students, have launched a high-altitude balloon as a technology demonstration in April 2016, which made Saint Cecilia the first academic institution in the country to accomplish the feat.
The project was supported by the DOST-PCIEERD through Young Innovators Program which led the conception of the High-Altitude Balloon Life Support System “Karunungan”—also a Philippines’s first and launched it in May 2018.
He said Saint Cecilia also ventured into model rocketry, which had gained this year’s DOST-PCIEERD YIP research grant. It is positioned to become one of the bases for future launch vehicles for the country’s next generation of satellites to orbital missions and beyond.
“Filipinos should be more open into S&T, especially in space studies, and cultivate the research culture into our community and country,” Pardorla said.
“I am hoping that I will not be the last to join the summer space school and that there will be more who will be interested and be qualified in this astounding opportunity in the years to come,” he added.
Image credits: Wilfredo K. Pardorla Jr.