PHL’s Maya-3 and Maya-4 cube satellites reach International Space Station

The SpaceX’s CRS-23 Dragon Cargo Spacecraft docks at the International Space Station on August 30.

Maya-3 and Maya-4, the first Philippine university-built cube satellites (cube sats), have successfully reached the International Space Station (ISS) on August 30.

The two cube sats were loaded, together with 4,800 pounds of supplies and science experiments, in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (Nasa) SpaceX’s Commercial Resupply Services 23 mission (CRS-23) Dragon Cargo Spacecraft that docked at ISS.

To ”commemorate the experience,” Nasa sent this passport stamp via e-mail to those who watched online the launching of SpaceX CRS-23 Resupply Mission to space on August 29.

The docking of Dragon to ISS was beamed live on Nasa’s web site, which was covered by the media worldwide, including the BusinessMirror.

The Nasa announced the confirmation of the docking.

“We have confirmed the contact and capture [of Dragon Cargo to ISS] at 9:30 a.m. Central Time, 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time [10:30 p.m. Philippine time, when the space station was] over Western Australia,” it said in live broadcast.

SpaceX’s CRS-23 Dragon Cargo Spacecraft, through the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, was launched on August 29 at past 3 p.m., Philippine time.

Once the cube sats are released from the ISS, they will move along an orbit similar to the space station’s at an altitude of approximately 400 kilometers.

“Stay tuned for news about the Maya-3 and Maya-4 cube sats’ deployment from the ISS in the coming weeks. Once the cube sats are released to space, the ground team can begin to check its health and prepare for operations,” said the Sustained Support for Local Space Technology and Applications Mastery, Innovation and Advancement (Stamina4Space) Program in its Facebook page after the docking last August 30.

A “crowning moment” for the Philippines was how Science Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña described the launching of the cube sats into space, as he also felt “proud and hopeful” as a Filipino for having the Maya-3 and Maya-4 developed in the country.

Maya-3 and Maya-4 were the first Filipino cube sats built in a university in the country, at the University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD).

They were built under the Space Science and Technology Proliferation through University Partnerships (STeP-UP) project of the Stamina4Space Program, which is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon vehicle approaches the International Space Station as it prepares to dock on August 30.

It is implemented by the UPD and the DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute, in collaboration with the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan, and with scholarship support from the DOST’s Science Education Institute.

Maya-3 and Maya-4 were developed by the first batch of STeP-UP scholars composed of eight students, namely Gladys Bajaro, Derick Canceran, Bryan Custodio, Lorilyn Daquioag, Marielle Magbanua-Gregorio, Christy Raterta, Judiel Reyes, and Renzo Wee.

The cube sats’ development was part of the course requirements of the Master of Science or Master of Engineering under the nanosatellite engineering track.

Each cube sat weighs approximately 1.15 kg with 10-cubic cm frames. They have components that are designed to demonstrate nanosatellite-based remote data collection systems and optical imaging.

Their mission and payloads were conceptualized and developed to test and demonstrate technologies that can on be used to provide data that may be used in applications of various sectors, such as agriculture, environment and natural resources, and disaster risk reduction and management, among others.

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