DOST execs note importance of Space Agency creation

By Ma. Cristina Arayata

February 1, 2019, 9:14 pm

MANILA -- Four executives of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) on Thursday noted the importance of establishing a Space Agency in the country.

In a forum held in Quezon City, DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña stressed that having a Space Agency is essential to help strengthen space technology studies and developments in the country, as well as make regulations for this matter.

Dela Peña said he hopes the legislators would consider the passage of the Philippine Space Development Act, which is due for second reading in the Senate.

Enrico Paringit, DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) executive director, remarked that the country's initiatives related to space technology would continue if there will be an agency that would better support and manage these.

The Philippines has launched two Filipino-made microsatellites -- the Diwata-1 and Diwata-2, in 2016 and in 2018, respectively. These were launched to outer space to capture images that will be used for remote sensing and for research.

Remote sensing is data-gathering about the earth's surface. Among the technologies needed in remote sensing are satellites with high resolution camera, and sensors for mapping flooding areas.

The microsatellites are also being used to gather data on natural and man-made disasters, to monitor vegetation and water changes, among others.

"We need (the Space Agency) to continue the advancements in space technologies in the country," Paringit said.

Dela Peña said the DOST targets to launch a third microsatellite by 2022.

"We look forward to developing satellites. (Our) target is to have the Diwata-3 (orbiting) up to 2022. It should be orbiting by that time," he said.

The executive added that the DOST continues to boost its human resource who are working for space technology development, and will send some scholars to Russia.

Earlier, dela Peña told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that he is not sure whether the DOST will also handle the Space Agency once it is established. He noted, however, that whoever will manage the Space Agency, the DOST will support and will always be part of the "entire ecology".

Boosting info dissemination

Meanwhile, DOST Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara said information dissemination will be faster if there is a dedicated agency for this.

Information to be disseminated are about space, geology and other related matters, she said.

"We want to address 'information poverty'," DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute acting director, Joel Marciano said.

At present, the DOST receives data and images captured by the two microsatellites.

There is a microsatellite laboratory at the University of the Philippines. It is open to the public, and was created to educate people about microsatellites. (PNA)