Manila: A 21-year-old entrepreneurship course graduate is looking at becoming the Philippines’ pioneer in space exploration through a start-up that he and some of his friends are working to put together.

Dexter P. Bano said that as a child he had always wanted to be an astronaut, but his mother would tell him that opportunities like that are not available in the Philippines and that schools in the country do not teach the kind of courses.

“I am now trying to pursue studies in astrophysics (to arm me with the necessary knowledge for space exploration),” he said, in an interview with the ANC cable channel.

While Bano admits that he is at the moment is short of money to finance his dream, he had engaged in a crowdfunding initiative in social media. His pitch, to come up with the first reusable rocket in the Philippines on the short term and in the long term, send the first Filipino to mars and back.

Bano is founder and chief executive officer of OrbitX — Orbital Exploration, a Filipino start-up.

“I want to collect funds for Orbital Exploration Technologies (OrbitX), and so I have made a crowdfunding project. We will use the funds to buy equipment such as 3D printers and computers,” he said.

Eventually, once the necessary funds are in to get things moving, Bano and Orbit X will start work on “Haribon” which he said will be the country’s first “reusable” rocket.

“Haribon will basically be a payload launch vehicle. Our goal is to send the first Filipino to outer space and to open the frontier to developing countries like the Philippines,” he said.

It will using biofuel from sources like algae to power the rocket. Haribon is basically made out of stainless steel.

To fuel the rocket, Bano is looking at an abundant resource — algae. “Basically we are cultivating algae, we are harvesting algal blooms from the Manila waterways, from those, we would be extracting the biofuel. We are planning to use liquid oxygen and liquid methane for the Haribon Rocket. The project sustainable and the carbon emissions are minimal compared to traditional fuel,” he said.

He adds that the team is also looking at using rockets made from stainless steel that will be reusable.

“Now that the government has passed a law creating a Philippine Space Agency. We believe that now is the time to have this kind of initiative so that we can launch our own satellites. It is sad that Filipino experts have played part in developing this space vehicles in the past, but outer countries were the ones to launch them,” he said.