The made-in-Vietnam sea observation satellite underwent vibration, shock and thermal vacuum testing in a simulated pre-launch environment, the last steps in its hardware development, at the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan.
The satellite weighs four kilos and belongs to the cubesat category, a type of miniaturized satellite for space research made of multiple 10 centimeter × 10 centimeter × 10 centimeter modules.
Vietnam’s NanoDragon satellite undergoes thermal vacuum testing at the Kyushu Institute of Technology, Japan. Photo courtesy of VNSC.
Le Xuan Huy, deputy general director of VNSC, said the NanoDragon satellite ended its tests on April 7, meeting all targets as required in terms of design and safety prior to launch.
The satellite is operating normally after being transferred back to Vietnam, awaiting its launch into orbit. Japan’s Epsilon rocket is expected to launch NanoDragon as part of the second “Innovative atellite technology demonstration” program within Japan’s 2021 fiscal year ending March 2022.
The satellite was developed with the purpose of demonstrating it could use micro-satellite beam technology to receive the Automatic Identification System (AIS) signal to track and monitor activities at sea. The NanoDragon satellite is also designed to verify the quality of Japan’s MEISEI satellite navigation and positioning system and a new advanced onboard computer developed exclusively for microsatellites.
The NanoDragon satellite is expected to operate in solar synchronous orbit at an altitude of about 560 kilometers from Earth.
Japan sent the 50-kilogram Vietnamese satellite MicroDragon into space from Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, southern Japan, in January 2019.
It was used to observe Vietnam’s coastline, evaluate water quality, locate fishery resources and monitor changes to serve aquaculture, detect cloud coverage and aerosols, collect ground-based sensor signals and transmit them to stations on Earth.
Vietnam sent its first indigenous satellite into space in 2013. The one-kilogram PicoDragon remained in orbit for three months. The country had launched four prior satellites, all made by foreign companies.