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Sunday March 22, 2009

Remote sensing satellite to be launched from Marshall Islands on April 21

SHAH ALAM: For less than RM2,000, you can now have a satellite image of your neighbourhood or a place of interest.

The images from RazakSAT, Malaysia’s first home-grown remote sensing satellite, can be purchased from the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency from middle of this year.

Malaysia sent off RazakSAT from the Royal Malaysian Air Force Subang airfield yesterday to Kwajalein Island in the Republic of Marshall Islands, from where the satellite will be launched on April 21.

Equatorial orbit: RMAF personnel loading the RazakSAT into a C-130 aircraft for transport to the Marshall Islands. — Bernama

RazakSAT, named after the second Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Abdul Razak, is a mini class satellite weighing 180kg and the first remote sensing satellite in the world to be orbiting the equator.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili said the equatorial orbiting satellite would enable observations of the earth’s surface to be made more often compared with a polar orbiting satellite.

RazakSAT can revisit the same spot four to six times a day and has a 2.5m resolution. “The satellite, which cost RM150mil, is the workmanship of local scientists and engineers,” he said in a press conference after the launch of RazakSAT.

A close-up of the satellite. — Bernama

He added that two other ‘baby’ satellites, CubeSAT and InnoSAT, weighing approximately less than 10kg each, were also attached to the body of Razak­SAT.

“CubeSAT was developed by Astronautic Technology (M) Sdn Bhd while InnoSAT was developed by Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and Universiti Malaysia Perlis.

“These baby satellites are to take images for research and development purposes,” he said.

Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency director general Darus Ahmad said a committee comprising government agencies such as the military and police would vet requests for “sensitive” images.

With RazakSAT, Malaysia now has its own satellite to monitor security in the country, natural resources and maritime activity.

Before RazakSAT, Malaysia launched TiungSAT-1, which was more experimental in nature and had 80m resolution.

It ceased operations three years after it was launched in 2000.

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