Vietnam's NanoDragon satellite ready for final test before launch

NanoDragon satellite (NDG) is a nano-layer cubesat satellite weighing about 4 kg with a size of 3U, developed by the Vietnam Space Center (VNSC) of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology. It is expected to be launched into orbit in September 2021, on the 10th anniversary of the VNSC.

VNSC staff participate in processing NDG

The satellite is the product of the project "Research, design, manufacture, launch and trial operation of nano-scale satellites" under the "National science and technology program on space technology in the 2016 - 2020 period". The process of researching, designing, integrating and testing the satellite functions is done completely in Vietnam, by VNSC researchers. In addition, the whole mechanical structure and source distribution circuit of the satellite are made in Vietnam.

Completed NanoDragon satellite

Satellite mission: The NDG is expected to operate in a solar synchronous orbit (SSO) at an altitude of about 520 km. The satellite has two main tasks: 1/integrating a vessel Automatic Identification System (AIS) used for the purpose of tracking and monitoring vehicles at sea; and 2/using an optical imaging device to verify the quality of the satellite posture controller at operation in orbit.

System specifications: (table)

At present, the development of the NanoDragon satellite has reached the final steps. The satellite has been integrated, undergone functional testing at the system level and prepared to be sent to Kyushu Institute of Technology, Japan for environmental testing (simulating the launch and space environments).

NanoDragon in suitcase sent to Japan for testing

Due to the influence of the COVID-19 epidemic, the trial was carried out by a VNSC staff member currently working as a graduate student at the university in collaboration with local staff through an online tool. The detailed plan of the test at the Kyushu Institute of Technology is as follows:

- March 8-14, 2021: Thermal test in vacuum chamber
- March 15, 2021: Fit-check test for the first time
- March 16-17, 2021: Vibration test
- March 19, 2021: Shock test
- March 20, 2021: The second Fit-check test

Vibration, shock and vacuum heat testing in Japan is the last step in the development of satellite hardware. After the test, the satellite will be sent back to Vietnam to wait for launch. During this time, the satellite's flight software can still be tested optimally, to ensure smooth operation of the satellite in orbit. It is expected that the satellite will be launched by Japan's Epsilon missile under the "Innovative satellite technology demonstration" program in September 2021.

Together with the satellite development process is the design, construction and installation of a ground station to operate the satellites after launch. The installation of the ground station is going to be completed before its trial operation is conducted.

Before NanoDragon, the VNSC also successfully built the PicoDragon  supermicro-satellite (1kg, launched into orbit and obtained signals in 2013. MicroDragon satellite (50kg) which was manufactured by a group of 36 staff members of VNSC, under the guidance of Japanese experts, was successfully launched into orbit in January 2019 and sent photos to the ground station in Japan.

The development of the NanoDragon satellite in Vietnam is the next major milestone in the process of obtaining the purpose in mastering small satellite technology, self-designing and manufacturing small earth observation satellites in the "Made in Vietnam" satellite development roadmap. The event was also reported by Vietnam Television, in which it confirmed that "The dream of Vietnam's aerospace industry rising high is not far away".

Translated by Phuong Huyen
Link to Vietnamese version

Related news