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First S'pore-made commercial satellite to be put into orbit next year

The first Singapore-made commercial satellite will be put into orbit in the fourth quarter of next year.

SINGAPORE: The first Singapore-made commercial satellite will be put into orbit in the fourth quarter of next year.

Singapore Technologies Electronics (ST Electronics) said its satellite, TeLEOS-1, is now in the final stage of development -- marking another milestone in Singapore' quest to grab a slice of the US$300 billion-a-year space industry.

Built by ST Electronics, TeLEOS-1 will be launched by India's state-owned Antrix Corporation about some 550 kilometres above the earth.

Once in orbit, the earth observation satellite will circle the equator and capture high-resolution images that can be sold commercially for use in operations such as disaster management, cleaning up oil spills and maritime security.

Tang Kum Chuen, president, Communications & Sensor Systems Group at ST Electronics (Satcom & Sensor Systems), said: “It goes round the earth almost 15 times a day as compared to the sun-synchronous orbit, which goes round the earth maybe two times a day.

“It gives us a very high availability of imaging, which provides almost real-time information to people who need it. For example, if you are conducting a disaster relief operation, you want a real-time picture of what is happening, and you want to have as many pictures as possible and as quickly as possible."

ST Electronics will not say how much TeLEOS-1 will cost, but industry players put the figure at over US$100 million for such satellites that are equipped with high-resolution cameras.

ST Electronics also announced on Thursday that it will jointly develop, manufacture and sell microsatellites and integration services with New York-listed ATK.

Lee Fook Sun, president of ST Electronics, said: "We do expect that the space portion of the business would contribute in the years to come to the growth of the company.

“We are very new into it, and obviously at this time, we are still making an investment that we are very fortunate to have, even before the launch of TeLEOS-1 -- partners have already signed up with us to distribute the imagery."

ST Electronics has partnered Satrec Initiative and SPOT Asia for the distribution of satellite imagery from TeLEOS-1.

The company said imagery from the satellite is expected to be commercially available in the first half of 2016.

Speaking at the Global Space Technology Convention on Thursday, Second Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran said "encouraging progress" has been made in Singapore's space industry since the set up of the Office for Space Technology and Industry (OSTIn) last year.

For example, with OSTIn's help, Singapore SMEs such as Addvalue Technologies was able to build on its expertise in radio frequencies to develop a satellite-based terminal to enable data transfer between low earth and geo-stationary satellites.

Singapore is currently supporting 11 projects with a total budget of close to S$12 million.

Mr Iswaran said: "The scope for growth is significant. As the local space industry develops, there will be opportunities for international companies to work with local players to co-develop satellite solutions and to access growth markets."

To grow the space industry, the Singapore government set up a S$90 million Satellite Industry Development Fund in the 2013 Budget.

The fund supports industry development efforts and public-private partnerships in research and development (R&D) to build up Singapore's satellite capabilities.

According to research and consultancy firm Frost & Sullivan, over 900 satellites are expected to be launched globally by 2020.

It expects the space industry to continue to grow, supported by rising demand for global information exchange and better connectivity. 

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