Graduate of Japanese college leads team to launch 1st Thai-made satellite
BANGKOK, NNA – Thailand’s first domestically developed satellite, sent into orbit by a U.S. rocket earlier this month, is the product a technology university team headed by a University of Tokyo graduate.
Phongsathorn Saisutjarit led the project team at King Mongkut’s University of Technology North Bangkok (KMUTNB) after graduating from the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the elite Japanese university.
The small KNACKSAT satellite, or KMUTNB Academic Challenge of Knowledge Satellite, was launched on Dec. 3 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
On Dec. 4, German amateur radio operator Mike Rupprecht identified the first signals from the 1-kilogram, cube-shaped satellite, which measures 10 centimeters on each side.
On Tuesday, Phongsathorn received a certificate of honor in Bangkok from Shiro Sadoshima, Japan’s ambassador to Thailand.
“I am very happy because, ever since I was a kid, I always dreamed of making a Thai satellite,” Phongsathorn said at the presentation ceremony. “I am still working toward making satellites with practical applications, not just an educational satellite. I want to make Thai satellites for Thais to use practically.”
Apart from astronautic engineering expertise, management is another skill Phongsathorn learned from his 16 years studying and working in Japan, including his high school years at Tokyo Gakugei University Senior High School.
Phongsathorn said he applied that knowledge to plan and manage the work process systematically and carefully for the Thai satellite project. Management is the most important element that led to the project’s success, he added.
Phongsathorn currently teaches satellite technology at Bangkok Christian College and hopes to help develop the first satellite made by Thai high-school students in the near future, he said in an interview with NNA.