Vietnam pursues space technology ambition

14:44 | 30/03/2015 Science - Technology

(VEN) - Vietnam Economic News’ Thu Huong spoke with Associate Professor, Dr. Pham Anh Tuan, Director of the Vietnam National Satellite Center under the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, to learn about Vietnam’s roadmap for space technology development, as well as necessary preparations for the country to launch its satellite, LOTUSat-2, into space by 2020.

“Investment in science and technology must be sufficient to demand and focused on key areas. Investment in the Vietnam Space Center project and efforts to build a roadmap for space technology development have reflected the way forward for the Vietnamese science and technology sector,” commented Associate Professor, Dr. Pham Anh Tuan, Director of the Vietnam National Satellite Center under the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology.

uCould you outline the roadmap for the development of made-in-Vietnam satellites?

Under Vietnam’s strategy for space technology development, by 2020 Vietnam will be able to design and manufacture small-scale earth observation satellites. Following the successful manufacture and assembly of the PicoDragon super-small satellite (1kg) in 2013, the Vietnam National Satellite Center is looking at making bigger satellites – the NanoDragon (10kg) in 2016, the MicroDragon (50kg) in 2018, and LOTUSat-2 (600kg) in 2020.

What will these satellites do?

As you know, many countries place a great importance on monitoring from space. When Vietnam has its own satellites, we will use them to collect necessary data for early warnings of natural disasters, forecasting seafood, agricultural and industrial output, updating electronic maps for land management and planning, as well as climate research, environmental changes and many other issues.

Currently, to produce a satellite photo, Vietnam has to order it in advance, and will only receive the image two days later. In fact, on several occasions Vietnam has not been able to receive the photos it needed on time. However, if we have our own satellites and a space center, everything can be done within 6-12 hours, including taking photos and processing data to issue warnings. A warning system from the space center would help Vietnam reduce losses of material assets as well as human losses.

What is the key to the successful development of space technology in Vietnam?

If we do not possess the technology, we can order it, or get it transferred from foreign countries. In terms of the necessary infrastructure, we just have to spend money on construction. In my opinion, human resources are the most important factor. To have qualified and experienced human resources, we need time to train them. Our ambition is to master technology to be able to design, manufacture, and operate satellites. The Vietnam National Satellite Center has sent 36 young officials to Japan to attend master-degree training courses in the field of satellite technology. They will join Japanese experts in the satellite manufacturing process. Finally, they will return to Vietnam to design and assemble the LOTUSat-2 satellite. We have also sent 32 officials to training courses on satellite image processing and 18 officials to management training courses to prepare for the establishment of the Vietnam Space Center.

Along with cooperating with five Japanese universities, we have cooperated with three Vietnamese universities to open specialized training courses to train space technology engineers and master and doctoral degree training courses in the field of applied satellites and space science.

What will the center do to make young Vietnamese people interested in space technology?

We have launched many activities aimed at young people, disseminating information and knowledge about space technology and the Vietnam Space Center project in particular. In late 2014, we fully designed Observatory No. 2 in Hon Chong, Nha Trang, and preparations for its construction are underway. In addition, we are designing a space museum to be based at the Vietnam Space Center. The museum will attract people who love astronomy and space technology.

Japanese parliamentarian Katsuyuki Kawai (third from the left) visits the Vietnam National Satellite Center

Ảnh minh họa

Earlier this year we were very happy to receive a letter from several Vietnamese scientists expressing their wish that Vietnam officially join the International Astronomical Union (IAU). To improve its image and receive technical assistance from the IAU, Vietnam needs to become a transitional or official member of the union.

The construction of the Vietnam Space Center project, which has a total investment capital of JPY54 billion from Japanese official development assistance (ODA) and reciprocal capital from the Vietnamese government, began in September 2012 at Hoa Lac Hi-tech Park, Hanoi. This hugely significant project is part of the nation’s strategy for space technology research and application towards 2020. As the project’s investor, the Vietnam National Satellite Center under the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology is responsible for implementing and operating this important project.