A Tricom-1R microsatellite being readied for launch by an SS-520 rocket.

TOKYO, March 7: Nepal is teaming up with more than 20 countries in a Japanese project, which is planning to launch about 20 microsatellites over the next three years, according to Asian Review.

The project initiated by a team of University of Tokyo under Professor Shinichi Nakasuka, in addition to improving mobile communications in emerging nations, will also help them into space and perhaps spur future demand for satellites and related services.

The microsatellites will only weigh 3 kilograms, which is less than one thousand the weight of a conventional satellite, according to Prof Nakasuka.

Nakasuka said that his team wants to create a network of roughly 20 satellites circling Earth to ensure unbroken communication. The team has already made one microsatellite weighing only 3 kg.

The team, in early February, used an SS-520 rocket from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to launch a Tricom-1R microsatellite, known as “Tasuki,” into orbit.

The satellite received faint electric signals containing temperature and text data from a sensor on the ground while passing over Japan. On the next pass over the country, Tasuki demonstrated its communications capabilities again by transmitting data collected during its orbit. The onboard camera also took pictures of Earth.

The relatively low costs of microsatellites allow smaller enterprises entry into the space business, which has been dominated by governments and large corporations in the past. Key to keeping costs down is keeping functions to a minimum and using off-the-shelf parts, including cameras and chips.

Nakasuka’s satellite network will supplement existing telecommunications infrastructure, facilitating measurement of water levels and temperatures from sensors installed in rivers, farmland and other locations.

The information can be used to monitor flooding and other changes to the environment that can have dangerous consequences, such as spread of infectious diseases.

The inexpensive satellites could prompt emerging countries to buy their own and motivate them to begin space efforts.

Microsatellites also have relatively short development times of one or two years, about half that of larger satellites.

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