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For illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Pixabay

Manila: A dedicated agency that will chart the country’s outer space development strategy will be established after a law has been signed mandating its creation.

President Rodrigo Duterte on August 8, signed the Philippine Space Act, which establishes the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA).

The Act is recognised as the central government agency addressing all national issues and activities pertaining to space and science and technology applications. It is similar to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa), but its budget is limited to contributions coming from government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCC) and not national budget allocations like that of its US counterpart.

The PhilSA will serve as the main policy, planning, coordinating, implementing and administrative entity of the Executive Branch of the government.

Artificial satellites will be the main platforms to be used in the Philippines’ bid to develop peaceful utilisation of the realm of outer space es.

A 30-hectare land in Tarlac, Central Luzon, would serve as the research centre and launch site for these satellites.

Former senator Bam Aquino, who was one of the proponents at the senate of the Act, during the 17th Congress said that a strategic road map for space development would help propel the country into the space age.

Aquino said the use of outer space and technologies will help solve some of the country’s biggest challenges such as agriculture and climate change.

“Satellites can improve disaster management from providing accurate information that allow early warnings and predicting of disasters to reliable and quick communication during relief and recovery operations,” Aquino had said.

He said space technology could improve production and profitability of agriculture as satellites could conduct soil and weather monitoring and assessment.

“It could help conserve and preserve the environment, improve urban planning, transportation and communication networks,” he said.

Although the PhilSA would only be constituted now with the new law, the Philippines is not a newcomer in the use of space.

A Filipino private firm, Mabuhay Satellite Corporation in 1996 acquired the country’s first satellite, Agila-1, which is primarily used for communications and broadcast.

In 2014, the Philippines tied up with universities in Japan to launch the first micro-satellite developed by Filipinos, the Diwata-1.