NEC Corporation today announced that it received an order from Sumitomo Corporation for the manufacture and launch of the "LOTUSat-1" Earth observation satellite system for the Vietnam National Space Center (VNSC) (*1). The order also includes development of a ground system and local human capacity building programs related to satellite development processes, and is expected to be worth approximately 20 billion yen.
The satellite is scheduled to launch around 2023 and will contribute to measures against natural disasters and climate change in Vietnam as the first satellite system that NEC provides outside of Japan.
The LOTUSat-1 Earth observation satellite (*2) will be equipped with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and developed based on NEXTAR, a standard satellite system that leverages NEC's long-standing expertise and enables rapid delivery times, reduced costs, and high functionality. The LOTUSat-1 will also feature systems modeled after the ASNARO-2 radar observation satellite (*3) that is currently in operation.
NEC will provide a completed ground system, including a 9 meter-diameter parabolic antenna, satellite control center, and mission data utilization center and user interface which is based on NEC's "GroundNEXTAR" (*4) software package. The system will be installed at a space center in Hoa Lac being established and operated by the VNSC (vnsc.org.vn).
NEC will also support the development of local human resources by providing training in technology related to satellite development and operation processes, which will contribute to improving monitoring capabilities and enhancing the ability to forecast natural disasters.
This is the first satellite project by a Japanese company using Official Development Assistance (ODA) funds from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) under its Special Terms for Economic Partnership (STEP) program.
(*1) Vietnam National Space Center (VNSC)
Understanding the importance of space technology in the advancement of the nation, the Government of Vietnam approved "THE STRATEGY ON RESEARCH INTO, AND APPLICATION OF, AEROSPACE TECHNOLOGY UP TO 2020" in 2006, with the goal to better position Vietnam in the region. The plan has the following main objectives:
• Building and completing the legal and regulatory framework for the research and application of space technology;
• Building the infrastructure for space technology;
• Scientific research of space technology;
• The applications of space technology.
In order to facilitate "THE STRATEGY ON RESEARCH INTO, AND APPLICATION OF, AEROSPACE TECHNOLOGY UP TO 2020" and move towards taking command of the technology for building small satellites, the Government of Vietnam founded the Vietnam National Satellite Center under the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) on September 16, 2011, with the goal to manage, and implement the Vietnam Space Center project. The Vietnam National Satellite Center changed its name to the Vietnam National Space Center on July 17, 2017
(*2) About the LOTUSat-1 Earth observation satellite
The target of the "LOTUSat-1, Equipment and Capacity Development" package for the Vietnam Space Center Project is to develop and put into use successfully the Earth observation satellite LOTUSat-1, making use of synthesized aperture radar. LOTUSat-1 has capability to capture Earth images with high definition under all climate conditions day and night. The images received from LOTUSat-1 will meet the urgent need for satellite images, providing accurate and timely information for reducing the influence of natural disasters and climate change, managing natural resources and monitoring the environment, serving socio-economic development; Implementing and putting into use a ground station, satellite management center, satellite data processing center and IT infrastructure; Simultaneously, high quality human resource training will be conducted through an advanced satellite training course in satellite manufacturing facilities and a satellite image application training course.
1. Main instruments: X-band synthetic aperture radar
2. Satellite-bus: NEXTAR NX-300L
3. Size: 4.0 × 4.0 × 3.9 (unit: meter)
4. Mass: 580 kg
5. Observation mode:
• Spotlight mode: Resolution 1m or less, observation range: 10km or more
• Strip Map Mode: Resolution 2m or less, observation range 12km or more
• Scan SAR mode: Resolution 16m or less, observation width 50km or more
6. Orbit: Sun-synchronous subrecurrent orbit
7. Design life: 5 years
(*3) About the "ASNARO-2" radar observation satellite
NEC developed the radar observation satellite as the second in the Advanced Satellite with New system ARchitecture for Observation (ASNARO) series. ASNARO-2 was successfully launched in 2018, and the X-band synthetic aperture radar installed on board continues observations regardless of day/night or weather. ASNARO-1, the first optical observation satellite in this series, was developed by NEC. It was launched in 2014 and is a small satellite with a ground resolution of 50 centimeters or less. This satellite continues to operate at present. Both satellites are currently owned by NEC and are used to expand the space utilization business through sales of acquired satellite images, etc.
GroundNEXTAR is a high-quality ground system package developed by NEC based on the expertise the company has acquired through approximately 60 years working on the development and production of satellites and construction of ground systems. In addition to the primary operational functions provided by GroundNEXTAR, the system also offers visualization of satellite operations, especially 3D animation visualizations, and a distribution function for images.
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