The Philippines is launching its 7th and biggest satellite into space in 2023, according to the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA).
Named Multispectral Unit for Land Assessment or MULA, the planned satellite would be the country’s largest upon launch, weighing approximately 130 kilograms.
In an announcement earlier this year by the Department of Science and Technology, MULA is being developed for the department’s agenda in the emerging technologies sector, which includes the creation of space technology to aid in public services.
MULA is expected to capture satellite images covering up to 120 kms in width through its TrueColor camera, which is also capable of capturing 5M resolution images. The images would then be used in different environmental applications.
“We will be able to better monitor terrestrial ecosystems, as well as our land and marine resources to ensure both agricultural productivity and environmental integrity,” PhilSA Deputy Director Dr. Gay Jane Perez said in a television interview.
Moreover, the improved cameras of the satellite can aid in agricultural applications as it can help monitor and identify land map changes, crop situations, and forestry management, as well as aid in disaster management and response, Perez added.
The project is being implemented by the University of Philippines Diliman and the DOST-Advanced Science Institute’s team of scientists and engineers, in coordination with the PhilSA.
Additionally, MULA is being developed as a part of DOST’s Advanced Satellite and Know-How Transfer for the Philippines or ASP project.
According to Perez, there is an all-Filipino team of 16 engineers and scientists working on the satellite, including nine, who are still undergoing training in the United Kingdom.
The launch of MULA can be thought of as having our own “astronaut” in space, added MULA Project Manager John Leur Labrador.
The Philippines is also set to launch four smaller cube satellites or “cubesats” in the future, as part of the third to sixth satellites of the Maya satellite name, PhilSA added.
The country launched Diwata-1, the first Filipino-made satellite – in 2016. It has since then been followed by the launch of satellites Diwata-2, Maya-1, and Maya-2.
The Philippine Space Agency was created in 2019 by virtue of Republic Act No. 11363 or the Philippine Space Act signed by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to provide a “roadmap for the country’s goal of becoming a space-capable and space-faring nation” in the future.