SINGAPORE: Singapore could be one of the first in Asia to fly small satellites in formation as part of the newly-opened Satellite Technology and Research Centre’s (STAR) maiden mission, said Trade and Industry Minister S Iswaran at the Global Space and Technology Convention on Thursday (Feb 1).
“Flying in formation demands high-precision navigation and high complexity engineering, and we look forward with confidence to Singapore becoming one of the first few nations in the world to accomplish this.”
The key advantage of small satellites is the lower cost of building and launching them into space. Building time is reduced because they can be mass produced.
The lower cost and smaller mass mean such satellites can potentially be built and launched in fleets of tens or hundreds – that enables up-to-date monitoring of the earth across wide areas, for uses such as earth imaging and the collection of weather data.
The number of small satellites launched worldwide has risen from 20 in 2011 to more than 250 last year. The space industry is also estimated at more than US$330 billion worldwide.
Mr Iswaran said that this shift by the space industry to small satellites is something Singapore can tap on for new research and business opportunities.
HEALTHY PIPELINE OF TALENT
To ensure a healthy pipeline of talent to support the growth of Singapore’s space industry, the National University of Singapore plans to train about 30 new undergraduates in new satellite technologies each year.
STAR’s missions will also expose undergraduates and young professionals to the integration of satellites.
Furthermore, an agreement has been inked between the Singapore Space and Technology Association (SSTA) and NTUC to work together to drive educational outreach programmes and encourage careers in space and related technologies.
Mr Jonathan Hung, president of the SSTA, said: “The space industry requires a wide variety of talent and it also cuts across multiple industries. It requires a broad mix of engineering skills sets: Electrical, mechanical, chemical and material science. The diffusion into various sectors requires a strong talent pool. This partnership will elevate the interest towards the space industry."