MANILA -- In a bid to launch the Philippines as a space industry hub in Asia, government scientists are looking to earmark P1 billion for space technology in 2017 or 2018.
The Philippines is capable of becoming a center for knowledge where engineers, scientists, and industry stakeholders around the region can gather, said astrophysicist Dr. Rogel Mari Sese during a forum in Manila in November.
Sufficient funds, said Science and Technology secretary Fortunato de la Pena, would allow the country to explore improvements, through space technology, in national security and development, hazard management and climate studies, space industry and capacity building, and education.
"The initial strategy is to send our scholars abroad…[then] institute academic programs here in the Philippines," Dela Pena said.
Investment in space technology will also generate jobs for Filipinos, Sese said. Aside from astrophysicists and engineers, there will be a need for support personnel that range from operators and inspectors to typists, mechanics, and administrative employees.
"It had been stated that we need around 800 aerospace engineers and scientists in the next 10 years. Studies have shown that for every one person that is directly involved in the space field, there are four other people who serve as support personnel," Sese said.
Bills such as House Bill 3637 and Senate Bill 1211, are currently pending to create a Philippine Space Agency, as well as a space development policy.
"We're looking toward building our own space industry…we are a little bit behind. But if we do things right, we can take the lead in the Southeast Asian region," Sese said.
Previously, the government invested around P840 million leading up to the launch of the first microsatellite designed and built by Filipinos, Diwata 1.
Diwata 1 was launched into orbit from the International Space Station in April this year.
Aside from the US and Russia, countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and several others also have space programs that support space research intended to increase academic knowledge, and improve industry, economy and education, among others.
Asian countries with space programs include China, Japan, India, and South Korea.
Technologies which arose from space research include satellite television, mobile communication, medical apparatus, the global positioning system (GPS), scratch-resistant glass, and cordless tools, among others.