The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has unveiled a plan to launch the country’s very own micro-satellite by next year and another one in 2017 as part of disaster-mitigation efforts among other possible applications.

The “Philippine Scientific Earth Observation Micro-Satellite” program carries an P840-million tag, with Japan said to cover over P500 million. DOST Undersecretary Rowena Guevarra, in a press conference at the University of the Philippines, said the Department of Budget and Management has already committed a budget to the project until 2017.

The micro-satellites are slated to be launched with the help of the Japan Space Exploration Agency with a data receiving station to be put up in Subic at a former communications facility used by the US, a facility which will be named the Philippine Earth Data Resource and Observation or “PEDRO.” The first micro-satellite to be launched next year will be nicknamed “Diwata.”

The DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research will spearhead the initiative in collaboration with the University of the Philippines and with technical and research support from the Hokkaido University and Tohoku University.

DOST is optimistic that the satellite program will provide a big boost to the country’s disaster risk response by provision of real-time geo-spatial data and enhanced weather-prediction capabilities. In addition, the satellite data may also be used for other applications such as in agriculture, forest cover monitoring, and even security.