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Vietnam to Launch Another Homemade Satellite This December

The satellites will help monitor environmental conditions related to climate change and allow for emergency disaster warnings.

A VND7 trillion (US$301 million) plan for the satellites was approved in 2006. According to the proposal, the money would come from government funds to build the nearly complete Vietnam National Space Centre (VNSC) and four satellites as part of a partnership with Japan.

Moreover, 36 Vietnamese engineers traveled to Japan to study while progress on the MicroDragon satellite is nearing completion. They expect to send it into orbit in December. The 50-kilogram device will enable the center to receive desired satellite images in six to 12 hours compared to the minimum two days it takes to request them from international services. 

The MicroDragon will be followed by the LOTUSat-1 next year. This 600-kilogram satellite will capture high-resolution images of the entire country and surrounding waters making it useful for monitoring erosion, saltwater intrusion and high tides. It can function in the absence of sunlight which means, unlike many satellites, it can operate 24/7. A similarly sized LOTUSat-2 will follow. In 2013, Vietnam launched the one-kilogram PicoDragon.

The satellite plans fall in line with Vietnam's recent establishment of a satellite image database. The "data cube" will help store and manage the many images available for development and research.

At a conference last week, Ryutaro Kobayashi, deputy head of Japan International Cooperation Agency’s Vietnam Office, stressed the challenges Vietnam is facing from climate change and how the technology can help the country better understand and address them. The UN claims that it is among the world's top ten nations most affected by climate change, which costs the country US$780 million a year. Disrupted weather patterns have triggered a major migrant crisis while also damaging agriculture and fishing.

[Photo via Tuoi Tre]

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