Gov’t space agency pushed
Space Science experts are pushing for the creation of a government space agency that will advance technology researches and its applications on national defense, environment monitoring and disaster management programs in the Philippines.
Dr. Rogel Mari Sese, head of the Astrophysics Laboratory of the University of the Philippines Los Baños, has noted that the Philippines is lagging behind other Southeast Asian countries in terms of the study of everything in outer space. These countries—Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia—have their own government space programs.
Sese, also the chairman of the Southeast Asian Young Astronomers Collaboration, said there was “no cohesive plan” on space science in the Philippines as programs are distributed to various government agencies such as the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Department of National Defense, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, and the Philippine Rice Research Institute.
“In terms of equipment, the biggest astronomical telescope it has is the 45-centimeter (diameter) at the Pagasa observatory in Diliman, Quezon City,” he said on the sidelines of the World Space Week that opened in Los Baños, Laguna, on Oct. 8. “Having a single government space agency will allow these different branches to access these programs and they will be more consolidated.”
Ruby Cristobal, chief of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Science and Technology Manpower Education, Research and Promotion Division, said it is about time that the Philippines institutionalized its own space agency, even if such effort would require a congressional legislation.
The World Space Week is an annual celebration organized by the DOST Science Education Institute as part of its commitment to the United Nations’ declaration to commemorate the 1957 launch of the first manmade satellite on October 4-10.
In Los Baños, the program included a water rocket competition among 14 high schools from Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon. The winning school would represent the Philippines in the same tilt organized by the Asia Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum in Kuala Lumpur in December.
Sese expressed urgency for the Philippines to launch its own earth observation satellite, especially now that the 15-year-old Agila 2 is set to be decommissioned in 2013. The Agila 2 is the only Philippine in-orbit satellite.
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