Made-in-Vietnam microsatellite sends its first signals

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Made-in-Vietnam microsatellite Pico Dragon (1st,R) leaves the ISS along with two other satelittes from the US. PHOTO COURTESY OF VNSC

The Vietnam National Satellite Centre (VNSC) announced November 20 that it had received the first signals from the micro satellite Pico Dragon, the first made-in-Vietnam satellite to successfully operate.

Pico Dragon was sent into space in early August by Japan's Kounotori-4 (HTV-4) cargo spacecraft, along with three other satellites from the US.

After three months at the International Space Station (ISS), Pico Dragon was put into orbit at 07:17 p.m. on November 19 (Vietnam time), news website Vietnamplus reported.

The satellite sent its first signals back to earth stations in Japan four hours later. Shortly after that, the VNSC earth station in Vietnam also received its first signals from Pico Dragon as the satellite moved over Vietnamese territory for the first time.

Weighing nearly one kilogram and having the size of 10x10x11.35 centimeters, Pico Dragon is assigned to capture images of the earth, collect space environment data and test communication systems. 

It was developed by young engineers and researchers from the Vietnam National Satellite Centre (VNSC) at the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST).

In October last year, another small satellite developed by Vietnam's FPT University, the F-1, the first satellite made in Vietnam, was also put into orbit after staying at the ISS for around three months.

But earth stations have lost contact with Vietnam's first indigenous satellite.

On May 7 Vietnam's first remote sensing satellite, the 115-kg VNREDSat-1, which cost $75.5 million to build, was launched from the Kourou space station in French Guiana in South America.

Vietnam has launched two communications satellites, Vinasat-1 and Vinasat-2, since 2008.

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