September 12, 2006 – Lapan (Lembaga Penerbangan dan Antariksa Nasional), Indonesia’s national space agency, is expected to launch the first indigenous satellite in late October, a milestone that will put the country on the world map of space technology. Agency Chairman Adi Sadewo Salatun said the micro-satellite Lapan-Tubsat would take pictures of regions affected by the disasters that have plagued the country recently, including volcanoes, earthquakes, forest fires and tsunamis.
“The satellite will carry a video camera that will feed us real-time pictures. It will be different from the existing satellite, which gives us a one- or two-week delay,” Adi was quoted as saying by Antara newswire. Adi said the satellite, which was assembled in Germany, weighed just 57 kilograms and cost Rp 10 billion (US$1 million). It is far lighter than the recently launched Telkom-2 satellite, which weighs around 2 tons. The satellite is currently at an Indian space base, waiting to be sent into orbit.
The Lapan-Tubsat is the first in a line of satellites developed by the agency for scientific purposes. As its next step, Lapan plans to develop a satellite for remote sensing to assist government efforts to improve the agricultural sector. Lapan expects the new generation of satellites to be completed in 2010. The country first joined the space race in 1976 by sending the communications satellite Palapa A-1 into orbit from an American base. Indonesian has since sent nine communications satellites into space, but all were designed and manufactured by overseas vendors.