From Malaysia To Outer Space
History was made on 30 June 2018 when UiTM students Syazana Basyirah Mohammad Zaki and Muhammad Hasif Azami sent a nano-satellite into space, part of a collaborative effort with the Kyushu Institute of Technology (Japan) under the Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite Project, or BIRDS Project.
UiTM, representing Malaysia, was joined by two other participating nations. Bhutan launched the BHUTAN-1 while the Philippines launched the Maya-1. The nano-satellites were delivered to the International Space Station (ISS) via the Space X Falcon 9 spacecraft which was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
BIRDS-1 is the first iteration of the Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite Project, or BIRDS Project, aimed to help countries build their first satellites. The Japanese Kyushu Institute of Technology (KIT) supported the design and fabrication of the satellites.
BIRDS-2 is the second iteration of the Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite project, or BIRDS Project.
- The Philippines
We ask Syazana on the role she played during the project.
“One of my key responsibilities was working on the antenna of the nano-satellite, specifically the antenna deployment mechanism (ADM) as well as the anisotropic magneto resistance magnetometer. The other member of our team Muhammad Hasif Azami was in charge of developing the camera to capture images from the orbit of the UiTMSAT-1.”
“The other countries Bhutan and the Philippines had teams working on other sub-systems of the nano-satellite, such as the on-board computer (OBC) and Attitude Determination and Control System (ADCS).”
“Together, we developed one complete nano-satellite and replicated them, one for each country,” Syazana explains.
What does the UiTMSAT-1 look like?
The UiTMSAT-1, along with the other nano-satellites of the BIRDS-2 Project, is known as a CubeSat. It is a miniaturised satellite used for space research. Just like its name, it is in the form of a cube measuring only 10cm x 10cm x 10cm and weighs under 1.33kg each.
We ask Syazana about the basic idea that led to the development and launch of the UiTMSAT-1, and the future of this nano-satellite.
“The idea came from our former vice-chancellor, Emeritus Prof Dato’ Hassan Said. He proposed the project to us, and as students we did our best to realise his vision.”
“As for the UiTMSAT-1 itself, it is currently in an orbit around the earth at an altitude of approximately 370km. But it is quickly approaching the atmosphere, descending more rapidly than we first anticipated, which was around two years. But it’s already quite low even after just one and a half years. Soon it will burn up upon re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere,” she says.
UiTMSAT-1 may only be in outer space for a little under two years, but the accomplishment of sending a nanosatellite into space will live on forever in Syazana. After all, how many students can say that they sent a satellite into space?
“The entire experience of developing the first Malaysian nanosatellite and the success of it, during launch and deployment from the ISS to space, has been unforgettable to me.”
But UiTM is not resting on its laurels. The university is now preparing to build a hub for hands-on training as well as testing facilities for the development of future small satellite projects.
The postgradasia team wishes UiTM the very best of success in its future voyages to space!