The European Space Agency has scheduled the launch of the Napa 1 satellite on an Ariane Vega rocket at the Guiana Space Centre, in French Guiana, South America, on March 24, an RTAF source said yesterday (Feb 3).
The launch has been postponed twice, first in September last year and then in December.
Napa-1 will have cameras that will play a crucial part in the Royal Thai Air Force Defence System, strengthening national security and preventing threats, the source said.
The RTAF set up a space operations centre on Aug 16 last year in a bid to enhance its operational capacity and upgrade the country’s capacity in space missions.
The centre is also expected to play a role in supporting disaster mitigation operations.
The new centre aligns with the air force’s strategy, which includes “space” as a key domain for operations ranging from surveillance and patrol to the creation and maintenance of satellites and tracking of space objects.
The RTAF reportedly plans to propose a draft law to regulate and supervise space operations conducted by the air force and other government agencies.
Meanwhile, the national committee on space policy has set up a sub-committee to map out a policy and operations plan on tracking and keeping tabs on other satellites and orbiting objects, to keep pace with growing space traffic.
Chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, the panel has assigned the Defence Ministry to draft the policy and the operation plan with support from related agencies, said Maj Gen Patchasak Patirupanont, spokesman for Gen Prawit.
Maj Gen Patchasak said the formation of the panel is in line with the country’s 20-year draft blueprint on national space policy (2017-2036).
He said Thai communications satellites, survey satellites, and tiny satellites for educational purposes were already in orbit.
The growing number of space objects and debris orbiting Earth meant Thailand had to enhance its tracking and surveillance capabilities to avoid collisions and service disruptions, he said.
He added that Gen Prawit had also urged the Digital Economy and Society Ministry to speed up drafting plans on developing Thai space missions.