ONDE synergised MUT transform Thailand to be space technology creator through APSCO’s activities
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ONDE synergised MUT transform Thailand to be space technology creator through APSCO’s activities

When talking about satellites and other space-related subjects, most people would view such as being far from their everyday experience.

However, products derived from space-related innovations are part of most people’s lives, directly or indirectly, from the moment we wake up and tune in to morning TV shows or drive to work via navigation application. In addition, weather forecast satellite data lets us know what to wear each day and warns us about natural disasters, like hurricanes, forest fires or floods, which prevents and limits the damage done and lives lost. So, we already take advantage of space-related technologies to live our lives. Many people may also not realise that Thailand is involved in the space industry through over 35,000 businesses. Although 95% of them may be SMEs or startups, all of them, however, bring economic benefits to Thailand to the tune of about 56.122 billion THB per year.

Dr. Phornphan Tannukit, Executive Director of National Space Affairs Division, the Office of National Digital Economy and Society Commission (ONDE), stated that, “Nowadays digital technology is being combined with space technology at an increasing rate, particularly satellite technology. Meanwhile, a satellite no longer needs to be large, thereby reducing development costs. Satellite developers are no longer limited to those with high knowledge in sciences or engineering. Recently, Thai youths have had success in designing and building small satellites in international competitions and have won awards bringing honour to Thailand. Thailand never lacks smart people, but we have limited stages for those people to shine and maximise their potential.”

Thailand’s government realised the importance of supporting domestic satellite development capability and having a mission to design, develop and assemble satellites as well as integrate small satellites like Cubesat, one of the small or nano-satellites that have low production costs and can be used for commercial purposes with specific tasks. By participating in Asia Pacific Space Cooperation Organisation (APSCO) activities, along with international collaboration, so that we can gain knowledge and experience important to satellite development, it also supports Thailand’s new space economy. Dr. Phornphan also emphasised that it is a mechanism or tool which can be used to advance the integration of Thai knowledge and expertise across science, technology, engineering, and mathematics applied to invention and problem-solving through hands-on experience.

The APSCO CubeSat Competition (ACC) project aims to build expertise regarding the technology which enables CubeSat development among the 8 APSCO member states, namely, Thailand, China, Pakistan, Iran, Peru, Bangladesh and Türkiye, through Engineering Model (EM) development competition, not exceeding 3U within 3 years.

The competition gives participants of 5 teams per state the opportunity to learn about conceptual design and preliminary design through online training. They are then evaluated by an ACC referee board according to international standards. The top-performing team from each member-state will be awarded $100,000 to produce an engineering model of their satellite design.

ACC-Thailand was initiated with the goal of supporting the activities of the ACC which is responsible through ONDE on behalf of the Thai government. ONDE honourably selected

Mahanakorn University of Technology (MUT) as host to run ACC-Thailand since MUT is packed with highly experienced experts who have studied, researched and promoted space and satellite technology for over 25 years.

Thus, ACC-Thailand is an important milestone to inspire and give opportunities to students, experts and all those interested in using their knowledge and ability to design and build CubeSats. Moreover, ACC-Thailand is a bridge connecting the business and industrial sectors with Thai youth. Entrepreneurs can potentially make use of the technology created by Thai youths to expand their businesses.

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