An image of Cygnus NG11, the rocket which will be shuttling Nepal's first satellite into space.An image of Cygnus NG11, the rocket which will be shuttling Nepal's first satellite into space.

‘NepaliSat-1’ – Nepal’s first satellite to be launched from the US tomorrow

Tomorrow, at 20:46:00 UTC (02:31 NST), Nepal’s first satellite will be launched into space. The satellite, NepaliSat-1, weighing 1.3 kilograms is expected to reduce Nepal’s dependency on foreign satellites and was made possible under the BIRDS project of Kyutech (Kyushu Institute of Technology, Japan). The BIRDS project, designed in association with the UN, aims to help countries launch their first satellite.

An image of all three satellites. Image: KyutechThe satellite is to be ferried into space by CYGNUS NG11, a Northrop Grumman Antates rocket on its 11th operational cargo delivery flight to the International Space Station under the Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA. The mission is known as NG-11. The rocket will also be carrying Sri Lanka’s  first satellite, Ravana 1, and Japan’s Uguisu.

An image of all three satellites. Image: Kyutech
An image of all three satellites. Image: Kyutech

The rocket, headed to the International Space Station will take off from Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia, USA. Once aboard the space station, scientists will once again test the satellite before finally releasing it into space. The entire process is expected to take a month as per NAST (Nepal Academy of Science and Technology). Once deployed,

In the meanwhile, NAST is scrambling to ready the ground station. It has called out for tenders from interested parties to supply the necessary satellite communication equipment. The ground station’s completion is crucial bfore ISS readies to deploy the satellite. However we are already behind schedule, and NAST is racing a deadline, one which many are saying is ‘very difficult to meet’.

Once released, NepaliSat-1 will lie in the lower orbit, an estimated 400 kms from earth. It has a lifespan of three years. The satellite will be above Nepal for an estimated 5 – 10 minutes per day and will provide images of Nepal from above. The images can be used to forecast weather patterns, in bettering urban planning, and other technological developments, as per NAST.

 

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