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|The members of FSpace|
The group of young scientists presented their idea for researching and manufacturing a picosatellite in late 2008. It took the young people, most of them less than 30, to persuade the leaders of the corporation, FPT Software, to support the establishment of FSpace, the group of picosatellite manufacturers.
In late 2009, the experimental model BBM of F-1 satellite was completed with the size of 10x10x20 cm and the weight of two kilogrammes. The satellite was equipped with a camera that could take pictures of the Earth, and some sensors which allowed measuring the temperatures and the Earth’s magnetic field to learn about the environment on the orbit.
The young scientists decided that the satellite must have the highest reliability, because they would not have the chance to fix it if any trouble occured on the orbit. Besides, they needed to ensure a smooth communication between the satellite and the station on the Earth ground. FSpace then installed a station located on FPT building on Pham Hung road in Hanoi and tried to communicate with other satellites on the orbit.
In the next stage, FSpace tried to receive and transmit signals from the satellite located indoors at the distance of two metres. Then the distance was expanded gradually to 100 metres, two kilometers, seven and 20 kilometres. Recently, the team has brought the satellite to Tam Dao Mountain and from there, they tried to contact the station at FPT Cau Giay building (which is 50 kilometres away). The satellite received the orders released from the station, implemented the orders and then sent back the results.
FSpace has got the licence to use radio frequency for the FPT station from the Radio Frequency Directorate under the Ministry of Information and Telecommunication, while the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) assisted to register frequency on VHF and UHF band.
Doing business in the sky, why not?
Dr Tran The Trung, Head of the FPT Technology Institute, has revealed that the institute is following an ambitious plan. “Competing on the world space technology market is our ambition. We hope we can provide services that are provided elsewhere in the world. For example, we could provide picosatellite at lower prices,” he said.
Of course, Trung realizes that the path ahead is very thorny. “We have nearly no experience. We also meet difficulties in purchasing equipments. For example, solar cells used in satellites are considered by the US as high-tech weapon, and in order to purchase the products, buyers must get the licence from the US Government, which is costly, followed by the waiting period of six months at least. Therefore, FSpace had to seek supply sources in Europe instead.
After completing the first satellite model, FSpace is conducting necessary tests to ensure that the satellite can operate as designed when it launches into orbit. The teamwork is trying to contact foreign satellite launching service providers so as to launch F1 into orbit. If successful, FPT will become the first Vietnamese private enterprise which has manufactured a picosatellite, paving the way for developing Vietnam’s space industry.