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Myanmar ready to launch its first satellite in 2021 with Japan's assistance

Myanmar is considering forming its first national space agency and the acquisition of an Earth observation small satellite with the assistance of Hokkaido University in Japan.

Myanmar’s engineers and scientists are set to take part in the production and incorporation of some the apparatuses and instruments, according to reports in the Myanmar media.

According to the previous speech held by Myanmar’s Vice-President Myint Swe on 31 August 2018 in the new capital city of Nay Pyi Taw, the government has decided that building its own Earth observation satellite is too expensive for the foreseeable future, but developing a national space capability and an engineering base using small satellite technologies can be achieved through the cooperation with a developed country like Japan.

“Myanmar will send its own satellite. It will be done when Myanmar acquires the needed technology and experience. If we build this satellite ourselves, it will be too costly. Therefore, our priority is concentrating the efforts to be able to send cost-effective earth observation micro-satellite. Hokkaido University from Japan has offered us its support to send this satellite,” said Vice-President Myint Swe.

According to local reports, the satellite’s camera and other instruments will be integrated by Myanmar’s engineers. Negotiations on the specifications of the sensors are underway with the relevant ministries in Myanmar. Once these specifications have been decided upon, Myanma engineers will integrate them into the satellite at Hokkaido University in Japan. Presumably, the completed satellite will also be launched from Japan.

Vice-President Myint Swe said that his government was in discussions with Japan and Hokkaido University regarding cooperative mechanisms and protocols, as well as costs.

Myint Swe also suggested that government sub-committees will be formed to explore the establishment of a national space agency, create space legislation, policy, and regulations, and develop national space technologies and capacity. The Vice-President also encouraged open debate among engineers and other experts in Myanmar to devise the most optimal approaches to achieving these goals.

Image credit AP, Nikkei Asian Review

News of Myanmar’s space ambitions comes as many countries are condemning the Southeast Asian country of carrying out atrocities against its Rohingya Muslim minority, 700,000 of whom (out of an estimated population of 1.3 million) have been forced to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh, creating a humanitarian crisis there.

Earlier this week two Myanmar’s journalists were sentenced to seven years imprisonment each by a Myanmar court for reporting on the government’s mistreatment of the Rohingya.

These controversies have put off Western business interest in Myanmar, but have not deterred companies and organisations from China, Japan, Thailand, and South Korea. Animating Asian corporate interest in Myanmar is the intensifying geopolitical competition for influence in Nay Pyi Taw by China and Japan especially.

Unsurprisingly, it is in this context that Japan is offering Myanmar satellite technology development and capacity building.

Source: Spacewatch Asia Pacific


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