Three weeks after launch, Vietnamese satellite is not calling home – Radio Free Asia


A Vietnamese satellite meant to help monitor navigation in the disputed South China Sea has not transmitted a signal for more than three weeks since it was launched into orbit, a senior official told state media.

On November 9, the NanoDragon satellite was successfully launched into space from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture of Japan.

Developed and manufactured entirely in Vietnam, the four-kilogram (nine-pound) satellite is expected to use its Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver to monitor vessel movements, especially in the South China Sea. It will also test the accuracy of its attitude control – the means by which it adjusts its orientation – using an optical imager.

AIS transmits a vessel’s position and other data, making it traceable. Large vessels are required to broadcast their position with AIS in order to avoid collisions.

Until now, Vietnam has been monitoring vessel movements through ground-based AIS receiving stations and having a dedicated AIS satellite could greatly improve its vessel tracking capabilities in the turbulent waters of the South China Sea.

However, 22 days after the satellite’s launch, the Vietnamese earth station still has not received a signal from the NanoDragon, Vietnamese National Space Center (VNSC) Deputy Director General Le Xuan Huy said. Vietnamese press.

VNSC has discussed the eventualities that could befall NanoDragon and has sought action with its Japanese partner MEISEI and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to establish communications, Huy said. VNSC engineers are “actively looking for a signal from the satellite,” he added.

MEISEI is the supplier of test equipment for NanoDragon. The satellite has undergone and passed four rounds of safety inspections by JAXA, including environmental, impact and functional tests, Huy said.

Vietnam chose Japan to launch NanoDragon as a symbolic gesture to demonstrate the strategic partnership and trust between the two countries, according to Vietnamese Ambassador to Tokyo Vu Hong Nam.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh last week became the first foreign leader to visit Japan for talks with new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who took office in October. The two leaders would have shared “serious concerns about the situation in the South China Sea”.

The VNSC plans to launch an Earth observation satellite, the LOTUSat-1, in 2023 and it is not clear whether the latest developments around the NanoDragon would cause this plan to delay.

Currently, Vietnam has six operational satellites in orbit, three of which were developed by Vietnamese scientists.


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