Recently, we heard echoes from the Senate where members filed a Resolution to recognize three engineers – Izrael Zenar C. Bautista, Mark Angelo C. Puno, and Marlon P. Sejera – who have brought pride to the country for the satellite launched aboard the cargo spacecraft Cygnus “NG 15.”
We heard Senator Cynthia Villar wanting the Senate to recognize the three Filipino space engineers for developing Maya-2 CubeSat, the country’s 2nd nanosatellite successfully launched to the International Space Station (ISS) last Feb. 21.
In filing Senate Resolution 657, also introduced by Sen. Nancy Binay, Villar said the three engineers, Villar said the remarkable achievements of the three Filipino engineers are not just in line with the policies and goals of the Philippine Space Act.
It was also viewed as a “welcome good news,” bringing genuine inspiration to the Filipinos amid the backdrop of the now one-year-old COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
We agree beyond the alphabet with Villar that “Their work on the development of Maya-2 CubeSat launched into space constitutes a valuable contribution to the country’s science and technology, particularly in the area of space science.”
The three, currently pursuing their respective doctorate degrees in Space Engineering at the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan, should be given commendation.
We might have missed the occasion, but giving the commendation is only proper and timely.
We note that the 24-member Senate has in several instances paid tribute to exemplary Filipinos for their outstanding contribution to the country.
At the same time the 1987 Constitution recognizes that science and technology are essential for national development and progress.
Due to this, the State shall give priority to research and development, invention, innovation and their utilization, and to the science and technology education, training and services.
The Maya-2 CubeSat, while being the second Philippine nanosatellite launched, is actually considered as the country’s 4th satellite orbiting into space.
The Philippines launched Diwata 1 microsatellite on March 23, 2016; Diwata 2 microsatellite on Oct. 29, 2018 and Maya-1 nanosatellite on June 29,2018.
The Maya-2 uses commercial off-the-shelf components to verify proper function in space and the information gathered form the basis for the usage of these COTS components for future space missions.
It also carries a store-and-forward payload that can be used to gather data from ground sensors for more practical applications like for weather and infectious disease analysis.
The Maya-2 CubeSat was launched to the ISS along with GuaranSat- CubeSat of Paraguay and Tsuru CubSat of Japan under the BIRDS-4 Project or the Fourth Leg of the Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite Project, initiated by the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan.
The spacecraft Cygnus “NG-15”, carrying the Maya-2 CubeSat, is Northrop Gumman’s 15rh contracted cargo resupply mission for NSA to the ISS and tasked to deliver 8,000 pounds of science and research, crew supplies, and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory and its crew. It was propelled through the launcher Grumman Antaresr rocket, lifted off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, Pad 0A at the Wallops Flight Facility of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Virginia, USA.
At the same time, we salute Filipino-American engineer Gregorio Villar III, who was one of those who assisted in the safe landing of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Perseverance rover on Mars, according to the United States Embassy in Manila.
“As we celebrate the successful landing of NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars, did you know that Fil-Am engineer Gregorio Villar III helped with its safe landing as the Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) Systems Engineer of the Mars 2020 mission?” it said in its official Twitter account.
He works as an EDL Systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
According to his profile at the agency, Villar, who spent seven-and-a-half years building and testing a system that would land a car-sized rover on Mars, is also the head verification and validation engineer for the EDL phase of Perseverance.
Among others, Villar directed a Mars parachute test campaign at NASA’s Ames Research Center, the world’s largest wind tunnel.
For the Mars 2020 mission, he also led a council of atmospheric scientists from institutions around the world to characterize the Martian atmosphere.
Villar was awarded a NASA scholarship in his junior year of college, which came with an internship at a NASA center of his choice.
“I started interning at JPL in 2010 and got hired full-time in 2012,” he said in his reflections posted at the NASA Mars Exploration Program website.
For Villar, what excites him about Mars and space exploration is the “thought of going there” himself one day.
He studied at Saint Louis University-Laboratory High School in Baguio City and earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from the California State Polytechnic University in Pomona and his master’s degree in astronautical engineering from the University of Southern California.
Honor indeed for their country of origin. (ai/mtvn)