Myanmar's first satellite held by Japan on space station after coup, reports say

WION Web Team
Tokyo, Japan Published: Mar 14, 2021, 12:47 PM(IST)

A satellite (file photo) Photograph:( Reuters )

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Japan has close ties to Myanmar and is one of its biggest aid donors. While condemning the violence, it has not taken as hard a stance against the coup as the United States and some other Western countries which have applied sanctions.

Myanmar’s first satellite is being held on board the International Space Station following the Myanmar coup, several reports have said.

Japan has close ties to Myanmar and is one of its biggest aid donors. While condemning the violence, it has not taken as hard a stance against the coup as the United States and some other Western countries which have applied sanctions.

The $15 million satellite was built by Japan’s Hokkaido University in a joint project with Myanmar’s government-funded Myanmar Aerospace Engineering University (MAEU). It is the first of a set of two 50 kg microsatellites equipped with cameras designed to monitor agriculture and fisheries.

Human rights activists and some officials in Japan worry that those cameras could be used for military purposes by the junta that seized power in Myanmar on February 1. That has put the deployment on hold, as Hokkaido University holds discussions with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the two Hokkaido University officials told Reuters.

The data from the spacecraft would be collected by the Japanese university and cannot be independently accessed by Myanmar officials.

The satellite was launched by NASA on Feb 20 as a small part of a large and varied payload of supplies to the International Space Station 400 km (250 miles) above the earth. It has since been kept by JAXA inside Japan’s Kibo experiment module. JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi is one of the seven crew members now on board the space station.

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