Thai University Students will be the First to Launch Thai-built Satellite

Students at King Mongkut’s University of Technology North Bangkok (KMUTNB) are launching the first Thai-built satellite to test its functionality and learn about satellite operation

Poised to change the future of Thai aerospace innovation, students at King Mongkut’s University of Technology North Bangkok (KMUTNB) will be the first to send a completely Thai-built satellite to space. The Earth-imaging satellite, dubbed KNACKSAT, will reach orbit when it launches this year on Spaceflight’s dedicated rideshare mission, SSO-A SmallSat Express, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9. KNACKSAT is an acronym for KMUTNB Academic Challenge of Knowledge SATellite.

The satellite is an impressive feat for both the university and country. Weighing only 2 pounds, it is designed to capture images of Earth from a remarkable distance. Once in orbit, it will be able to take pictures at a resolution of 1 to 2 kilometers, with the satellite images being made available for both student and public use.

Hands-on education

With the guidance of Professor Suwat Kuntanapreeda and his colleagues, a team of about 20 students built the satellite over the past two and a half years with the intention of learning more about space innovation and satellite operation. The satellite is currently educational-only, giving students the opportunity to control and interact with the satellite while it is on orbit.

With this launch, students plan to test the hardware and functionality of the satellite to ensure the payload performs as it should and that images can be successfully transmitted back to Earth. Students will use this launch to improve the satellite’s design, leveraging the initial data it gathers to create more reliable hardware for future projects.  

Graduate students have been leading the project with the assistance of undergrads, all of whom are working diligently toward the project’s success. “The students have been focused on this project for so long,” said Kuntanapreeda. “They are excited to see their hard work come to life and see what the photos will look like.”

Working with Spaceflight

Kuntanapreeda and his colleagues originally chose Spaceflight to assist with launch services and mission management because it was the most cost-efficient way to launch their satellite into space. Spaceflight guided them through the launch process, providing a variety of launch and technical expertise, making it as seamless as possible for the team and giving them more time and focus to actually build the satellite.

“We didn’t know much about the launch process at first,” said Kuntanapreeda. “Spaceflight showed us the ropes.”

With Kuntanapreeda, his colleagues and his students halfway across the world in Thailand, they also relied heavily on Spaceflight to integrate and manage the satellite once it hit U.S. soil. Kuntanapreeda and his team are very happy with how smoothly the integration process went and are grateful for Spaceflight’s work on this aspect of the launch. The team is eagerly awaiting the launch later this year and is excited to learn from the experience as they make their mark on aerospace innovation in Thailand.

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