April 2019 marks a significant milestone for Singapore's endeavors in space and satellite engineering. Over the past 20 years, Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) Satellite Research Centre (SaRC) witnessed the culmination of their efforts with homegrown space sub-systems and satellite platforms. Since the project's initiation in 1996, the relentless pursuit of excellence from our engineering team pioneered efforts of developing the MERLION radio frequency (RF) transponder payload. Launched on 21 April 1999 onboard the UoSAT-12, NTU's first foray into space demonstrated the MERLION's low-cost communications capabilities. This success paved the way for its next ambitious project – X-SAT, which was a 106 kg microsatellite housing an imaging payload for Earth observation. The X-SAT was flown to space on 20 April 2011 onboard the PSLV-C16 launch vehicle and has since captured more than 8000 images, useful for scientific applications such as disaster monitoring and land use changes. Even till today, the ground station in NTU is still communicating with the X-SAT!
As such, the month of April 2019 commemorates the 20th year of Singapore's space heritage:
- 20th anniversary of the MERLION payload
- 8th anniversary of the X-SAT microsatellite.
Off to Space!