It became known that the first space satellite of Myanmar will continue to remain on board the International Space Station until the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) decides its fate. The reason for this lies in the recent change of power in Myanmar, which occurred as a result of a military coup. The news agency Reuters writes about this, citing its own informed sources.
This is a $ 15 million microsatellite, which was created by the Japanese University of Hokkaido as part of a joint project with the Myanmar Aerospace Engineering University (MAEU) and funded by the government of Myanmar. It is reportedly the first of two 50kg microsatellites to feature multiple cameras. They were planned to be used for the implementation of various projects related to agriculture and fisheries.
Human rights activists and some Japanese officials have expressed concerns that the satellite could be used for military purposes by the new government of Myanmar, which came to power on February 1 in a military coup. Based on this, the Japanese side suspended the deployment of the first satellite of Myanmar and the question of its future fate remains open.
“We will not interfere with military affairs. The satellite was not designed for this. We are discussing what to do, but we do not know when the device will be launched. If the project is stopped, then we hope that at some point it will be restarted.“, – one of the project managers commented on this issue, who wished to keep confidentiality. When exactly it was planned to launch the Myanmar satellite, it was not said.
A spokesman for Hokkaido University said the contract with MAEU did not say the satellite could not be used for military purposes. However, the data collected by the device will be processed by a Japanese university, so Myanmar officials will not be able to access them independently. It was also said that after the coup in Myanmar, contact was lost with the MAEU rector, Professor Kyi Thwin, who played an important role in this project.
Officials of the parties have so far refrained from commenting on this issue. Obviously, the spacecraft will continue to be stored in the Japanese Kibo module on the ISS until the issues that have arisen are resolved.
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