The Philippines needs to accelerate the development of its spacefaring capabilities to stimulate the economy, develop its sustainability and safeguard the environment.
Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) Director General Joel Joseph Marciano said the launching of Tala hybrid rocket could be a stepping stone for the country to hasten the advancement of the local space program. Tala means “bright star” in English.
“We can build on top of these several innovations,” Marciano said during an online news briefing after Tala was launched on May 20.
“The technology demonstration of a hybrid-propelled rocket is seen to further stimulate space science and technology applications research in order to advance innovation and development of our own space assets for research, exploration and commercial activities,” Marciano added.
Tala, the first high-powered hybrid rocket developed in the Philippines, successfully lifted off at 11:57a.m. from Crow Valley Gunnery Range in Capas, Tarlac, on May 20.
It should be noted that Tala was developed in 2018 by students and mentors from St. Cecilia’s College-Cebu.
It was able to deploy its Can Satellite payload before going into fast descent and eventual deployment of its main parachute for safe landing.
According to PhilSA, the rocketry team of Tala has retrieved the rocket body and is now working on the collection and analysis of launch data to determine the rocket flight details.
As a hybrid rocket, Tala used both solid fuel and liquid oxidizer, which make handling, shipping and storage much safer. The manufacturing cost is also lower.
Marciano pointed out that having a robust space technology capability, the Philippines has a strategic advantage because it can possibly be a launching site of space rockets from the country as it is “facing the Pacific Ocean on the east.”
He added that the Philippines has a lot to offer as there are several places where the country can show its spacefaring capabilities.
Besides producing rocket scientists and engineers, the Philippines will also employ people who are experts in various disciplines, such as the granting of permits, risks assessment policies and processes.
“It will need an entire effort of a community to build our space capability,” he said.
For his part, Wilfredo K. Pardorla Jr., one of the mentors of Team Tala and a teacher of environment, science and physics at the senior high-school department in Saint Cecilia’s College, Cebu, said the launching of Tala will have a big impact on research on the humidity, pressure and temperature of the country’s atmosphere.
“It will help the country study the quality of our carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide,” he said.
“Space technology can help us study the state of our environment,” Pardorla added.
Tala was developed by students and mentors from St. Cecilia’s College-Cebu under the Young Innovators Program of the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development.
It was supposed to be launched in March 2020 but had been postponed due to the pandemic. In 2022, the Tala team and PhilSA began working together to refuel the launch.
The Tala team members are Christian Lawrence Cantos, team leader and avionics systems lead; John Harold Abarquez, group support equipment systems lead; Joshua Pardorla, propulsion system lead; Joseph Emmanuel Capangpangan, structural systems lead; Dorothy Mae Daffon, recovery and ejection system lead; Almida Plarisan and Wilfredo Pardorla Jr, mentors.
Tala’s launch was made possible through the partnership of the PhilSA with the Philippine Air Force of the Col. Ernesto Ravina Air Base, the 710th Special Operations Wing, Air Force Research and Development Center, Air Force Systems Engineering Office, 950th Cyberspace and Electronic Warfare Wing, Air Force Public Affairs Office, and the 790th Air Base Groups.