Singapore firm set to launch 2nd satellite by 2020

After launching its first commercial earth observation satellite two months ago, home-grown defence manufacturer Singapore Technologies (ST) Electronics has set its sights on the next one.

Its engineers and planners are now getting information from potential customers on what services they require from the second satellite before starting to design it by the end of this year, said the group's president Tang Kum Chuen.

Dubbed TeLEOS-2, the upcoming satellite, expected to be completed and launched by 2020, will weigh about 600kg to 700kg. It can carry cameras or radars to capture images in the daytime and at night, he added.

Its predecessor, TeLEOS-1 - now in orbit - carries only a single camera. It was among six made-in- Singapore satellites that were launched in India last December. The other satellites were built by teams from Singapore-based space technology firm Microspace Rapid, the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University.

Mr Tang spoke to reporters at the Global Space and Technology Convention yesterday, after ST Electronics unveiled the first images taken by TeLEOS-1.

Some 25 images have been taken so far, mostly of areas in Singapore such as Changi Airport, Sentosa and Marina Bay, said Mr Tang.

Currently, engineers are testing components, such as the solar panels and communication systems, of the orbiting satellite, before the firm starts to sell images from June, he added.

So far, about five to six potential customers from government agencies have inquired about buying TeLEOS-1's photographs for security, environmental and construction purposes.

Citing the recent success, Mr Beh Kian Teik, who heads the Office for Space Technology and Industry (OSTIn) under the Economic Development Board, said long- term funding and a strong research and development (R&D) sector are crucial to grow Singapore's space and satellite industry.

Urging more tie-ups between private firms and the public sector, Mr Beh said the OSTIn will continue to partner companies to implement and manage their growth strategies for the region.

Also making the same point yesterday at the annual space conference was Trade and Industry Minister (Industry) S. Iswaran. "Singapore will continue to forge such connections to facilitate the exchange of knowledge, to develop capabilities and networks, as well as to support the growth of the global space industry."

One such tie-up yesterday involved the Singapore Space and Technology Association and its Chinese counterpart.

They inked a deal to set up a world's first R&D centre that will allow navigational satellite experts from both sides to work together on projects. The first one is an application that will allow tourists from China to use precision positioning navigational satellite technology to get around Singapore.

This article was first published on February 12, 2016.
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