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Indonesian Satellite in Orbit

Indonesia has finally joined the space race. Well, not really your NASA type assault in outer space but they do have a surveillance satellite zooming around ‘up there’ keeping an eye on happenings in the country, and, maybe elsewhere.

I don’t like that word ‘surveillance’. It conjures up memories of times past during the Soeharto regime, but in those days a satellite wasn’t used!. Anyway, here’s the article from the Jakarta Post:

First Indonesian-built satellite in orbit
Novan Iman Santosa, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesia marked its entry into satellite technology Wednesday when an Indonesian-built video surveillance satellite successfully entered orbit and beeped to show it was working.

“We got the first beep at about 4 p.m. indicating the satellite is working fine. It was a tense moment waiting to get the first signal,” National Space and Aviation Agency (Lapan) deputy chairman for technology Agus Nuryanto told The Jakarta Post by phone.

“Actually, the signal was sent to a ground station in Germany, but I can access all the data from Lapan’s ground station here in Rumpin, Serpong,” he said.

The Lapan-Tubsat satellite, launched by an Indian rocket, was designed and assembled in Germany by Lapan engineers working with experts from Technical University Berlin.

“We are currently in the first phase of satellite making. We have to learn from those who already have the technology,” Agus said.

“Hopefully in the second phase, 2009 or 2010, we can launch a satellite in which our experts and engineers have had a bigger role in designing and assembling.”

He said the satellite was designed to have a lifetime of two to three years, but Lapan hoped it would continue working for up to six years.

The satellite was launched from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)’s Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, using a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C7 rocket.

The Lapan-Tubsat satellite was an auxiliary payload, together with the Argentinean Pehuensat-1, a six-kilogram nano-satellite. The main payload was India’s own 680-kilo remote imaging Cartosat-2 satellite and Space Capsule Recovery Experiment SRE-1 designed to test re-entry technology.

The rocket was launched at about 9:23 a.m. Indian time (10:53 a.m. Jakarta time) according to Lapan’s website.

Agus said the satellite cost about Rp 10 billion (US$1.1 million) and the ground station in Serpong some Rp 11 billion. The total program cost a total of Rp 30 billion.

The Lapan-Tubsat satellite — orbiting about 630 kilometers above the earth — carries telemetry and telecommand transmission systems, as well as Altitude Control System (ATC) allowing it to receive various commands from ground stations.

Weighing some 57 kilograms, the micro-satellite carries a high resolution color video camera with a swath or coverage of 3.5 kilometers wide and a low resolution color video camera with a swath of 81 kilometers. The cameras have a resolution of five meters and 200 meters, respectively.

The satellite can be used for real-time monitoring of various conditions on earth such as forest fires, volcanic activity and flooding. It will pass over Indonesia four times a day.

Power from the satellite comes from four solar panels and is stored in five, 12-volt batteries.

“Lapan’s second phase satellite will be bigger weigh more than 100 kilos with a different mission.

“The second satellite mission will be supporting the country’s food availability program, such as monitoring the growth of rice fields using remote sensing devices,” Agus said.

When asked why Lapan used the ISRO launcher, Agus said there was a cooperation between the two agencies.

“ISRO is using Lapan’s facilities in Biak, Papua, to track its rockets and satellites. So we have an advantage in terms of negotiating for the use of ISRO’s launcher,” he said.