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Thailand needs ‘collaboration boost’ to get space mission off ground

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A House committee on space affairs is calling for more research funding and international collaboration to boost the number of Thai aerospace engineers.

Bhumjaithai Party MP Settapong Malisuwan, chairman of the subcommittee on space economy and security, said development of Thailand's space sector is being hampered by lack of international collaboration and transparency.

State agencies developing Thailand’s space industry do not share information with the public, he said, meaning young Thai students and engineers don’t get access to the field.

"While agencies such as Nasa have built systems that allow students and farmers to readily access open data, Thai space authorities make it impossible for the public to obtain such information,” Settapong said.

He urged private sector investment in scholarships and education to bridge the knowledge gap, adding that boosting collaboration with international agencies such as the US Space and Rocket Center and Nasa’s SERVIR: Connecting Space to Village initiative would also benefit all Thais.

SERVIR's Mekong centre, run by USAID and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre, uses satellite images and ground measurements to create water resource maps, drought forecasts, and other online data tools that are used by Thai farmers.

Thailand needs ‘collaboration boost’ to get space mission off ground Thailand needs ‘collaboration boost’ to get space mission off ground

Settapong’s move comes after the Cabinet last year approved the Space Affairs Act to lay foundations for the country’s space economy, including a seven-year mission to the moon announced in December 2020.

He said he will also urge the House committee on communications, telecoms, digital economy and society to meet with Dan Irwin, Nasa SERVIR's worldwide programme manager, to discuss ways to expand cooperation.

“I am hopeful that we can expand our worldwide collaboration with Nasa in order to promote and build Thailand's new space industry," Settapong said.

His subcommittee also sees international collaboration as a way of launching student projects involving small satellites or CubeSats, as well as larger commercial projects such as low-Earth orbit satellite (LEO) networks.

Thailand needs ‘collaboration boost’ to get space mission off ground Thailand needs ‘collaboration boost’ to get space mission off ground

Published : June 10, 2022