PENANG will have its first space technology station at the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) engineering campus in Nibong Tebal.
The new facility equipped with laboratories, communication systems, clean rooms and data centre will be known as Angkasa-X Earth Station Farm and Space Technology Centre.
Besides serving as a receiving ground for the Angkasa-X satellite which will be launched next year, the centre will also be used for research and development as well as integration and testing of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites to form and operate the Angkasa-X Asean-link LEO satellite constellations.
Angkasa-X executive chairman Dr Sean Cheah said the centre’s two components – Earth Station Farm and Space Technology Centre – must be built simultaneously.“Once the Angkasa-X satellite goes to space next year, we need the Earth Station Farm to receive signals on the ground.
“The Space Technology Centre will be the place to build the satellite,” he said at the ground-breaking ceremony.
The project costing RM30mil is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
“It is a collaboration between Angkasa-X Innovation Sdn Bhd, USM and the state government through Digital Penang.
“Through this project, we envision providing a platform for affordable Internet connectivity.
“The space tech ecosystem will become the means to elevate living standards, including in rural areas.
“Angkasa has a vision to transform rural communities throughout Asean via digital innovation.
“The centre will also provide hands-on experience for science and engineering students and tech professionals as well as electrical and electronics communities in satellite research and development, talent upscaling and data analytics,” said Cheah.
The ceremony was graced by Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Ahmad Fuzi Abdul Razak who was accompanied by Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and USM vice-chancellor Prof Dr Faisal Rafiq Mahamd Adikan.
In his speech, Prof Faisal expressed USM’s commitment to support Angkasa-X in the collaboration to establish an ecosystem for Malaysia’s space industry.
“Our campus was identified as the optimum location for the Earth Station since it will provide the highest satellite revisit time for near-equatorial orbit.
“The collaboration will allow USM to explore new frontiers in satellite development,” he said.
Chow said the Earth Station Farm and Space Technology Centre were expected to attract more investments and better business opportunities in the state.
“Angkasa-X, USM and Digital Penang have been actively leading and welcoming a new wave of investments in the aerospace economy.
“Last year, Penang recorded the highest manufacturing foreign direct investments in Malaysia with 98% of approved manufacturing investments driven by existing investors who decided to reinvest in the state.
“This space facility will be a milestone in Penang’s 50-year industrialisation journey,” he said.