Kathmandu: Nepal’s first satellite has been launched into space, which will soon start rotating around the Earths orbit to collect information about the country’s topography and earth’s magnetic field, officials said here on Thursday.
The NepaliSat-1 was launched at 2.31am on Wednesday from the Virginia-based station of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the US, according to authorities at the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST).
The satellite, developed by two Nepalis — Abhas Maskey and Hariram Shrestha — at Japan’s Kyushu Institute of Technology, bears the Nepal flag and the NAST logo. Similar satellites from Japan and Sri Lanka were also launched alongside NepaliSat-1, reports The Kathmandu Post.
According to the NAST, the satellite is equipped with a 5MP camera to capture Nepal’s topography and a magnetometer to collect data related to the Earth’s magnetic field.
“The satellite will first reach the International Space Station. It will then start rotating around the earth after a month,” Suresh Kumar Dhungel, senior technical officer and NAST spokesperson, told The Kathmandu Post.
The images and data will be sent by the satellite to the ground station at NAST, which is currently under construction.
“The ground station will be ready before our satellite starts rotating,” said Dhungel.
Officials at NAST said that the satellite will allow them to learn the process of sending and receiving data and information to and from space.
“The satellite will remain in the Earth’s orbit for a year during which the satellite will be closely studied,” said Dhungel. “Since it is a learning phase, the study of the satellite will help us in developing more advanced satellites in the future.”
On Thursday, Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli said in a tweet: “Though a humble beginning, with the launching of NepaliSat-1 Nepal has entered the Space-Era. I wish to congratulate all those scientists and institutions that were involved right from the development to its launching thereby enhancing the prestige of our country.”
The total cost from developing the satellite to launching it and constructing the ground station was said to be 20 million Nepalese rupees ($179,915).
A group of four engineering graduates were also working to launch another Nepali satellite ‘Nepal PQ-1’ in 2020.