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NASA launches first Pinoy-made satellite ‘Diwata’

The Philippines made history on Wednesday with the launch of its first microsatellite Diwata-1. 

The 50-kilogram imaging satellite will be part of the payload of private aerospace company Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft, which lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA at past 11 a.m. (Philippine time).

The Cygnus spacecraft carrying the DIWATA-1, seen in this real-time visualization courtesy of NASA, has just been...

Posted by Timothy James Dimacali on Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Pinoy microsatellite will stay on board the International Space Station until the end of April. It will be launched into space at an altitude of 400 kilometers above the Earth's surface.

Once in orbit, Diwata will monitor weather patterns and crop health, among other tasks.

Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Cuisia Jr. called the launch a proud and historic milestone for the country's science and technology sector.

“The launch of Diwata-1 is not only a giant leap for Philippine science and technology. It could also provide Philippine policy makers with the scientific data and information needed to formulate policies relating to disaster mitigation, agricultural productivity and management of land and water resources,” he said.

Malacañang also commended the launch.

"Ikinararangal natin na nagkaroon muli ng demonstrasyon na ang Pilipino ay may sapat na kakayahan sa larangan ng agham at teknolohiya. Kaya't narating natin 'yung puntong nakapag-launch tayo ng satellite on a global platform," Communications Secretary Herminio "Sonny" Coloma Jr. told reporters.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) expects the microsatellite to be fully operational by the first week of May. 
Interviewed on GMA News' Balitanghali interview with Dr. Carlos Primo C. David, director of the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD), Diwata-1 is on its way to the International Space Station where it will dock. The expected time of arrival at the space station is later this afternoon.
However, David said it would take time before the satellite becomes operational due to the huge amount of materials to be unloaded in the station.
“Mediyo mahaba-haba ang unloading kasi 7,000 pounds ang dala nung rocket, ang sa atin dun, 100 pounds lang,” David said.
The Diwata-1 cargo should be released by the third week of April. And with calibrations done witin the control stations in University of the Philippines Diliman and Tohoku university in Japan, the satellite is expected be functional by May.
David explains that Diwata-1 is equipped with four cameras which will help in different sectors like agriculture. 
Diwata-1 will pass by the country twice everyday, with each pass lasting 6 minutes. 
David explains that the stations have total control of what Diwata-1 will capture.
“It’s an imaging satellite, it would be taking pictures, images of our land area and territorial waters,” David said.
One of the four cameras in Diwata-1’s arsenal is a multispectral camera which can capture images beyond the visible spectrum. 
“Makakatulong itong makita ‘yung productivity ng farm areas,” he said. 
David also said that the satellite is equipped with a telescope that can make out structures as small as 3 meters on the ground. 
Asked if it can detect what is happening in West Philippine Sea, he said, “Puwede kung doon natin itututok ang mga camera natin. So kung gusto nating tingnan ‘yung mga barkong naglalayag sa ating mga karagatan, puwedeng makita ‘yun.”  — Kiersnerr Gerwin Tacadena,  ALG/KG/APG/TJD, GMA News