Napa-1, the air force’s security satellite scheduled for launch on Friday in French Guiana, has a core mission to prevent foreign powers from spying on Thailand, the head of the air force’s Space Operation Centre(Spoc) said on Tuesday.
Built by Dutch NewSpace company, Innovative Solutions In Space, Napa-1 will be sent into orbit about 500 kilometres above the Earth’s surface, AVM Supijjarn Thamwatharsaree said.
“The air force doesn’t intend to use this satellite for warfare or track specific individuals; it is to upgrade general security systems,” he said.
Napa-1 is a U6 CubeSat platform that enables ambitious military, commercial and scientific missions, he said.
Satellite technology now plays a crucial role in several areas of the country’s development including in surveying natural resources, weather forecasting, city planning, mitigating natural disasters and telecommunications, AVM Supijjarn said.
Security is also one of Thailand’s national strategies and a part of the air force’s 20-year strategic plan, he said.
Spoc was established last year as part of the air force’s bid to improve the country’s space security, he said.
One of the Spoc’s core missions is space situational awareness, an operation conducted to identify possible space security threats such as suspected spying activities by a foreign satellite in a shared orbit, he said.
Another important mission is monitoring and detecting space objects that may fall to Earth on Thailand, he said.
Currently, the Spoc uses ground-based sensors installed at a space surveillance station in Chiang Mai’s Doi Inthanon and another station in Surat Thani’s Samui district to monitor such objects, he said.
Napa-1 together with other existing sensory systems will better equip the air force to handle various operations including natural disaster relief work, controlling wildfires, protecting natural resources and water management, he said.