The Southeast Asian country got launch for the first time on February 20 a satellite in space. In collaboration with Japan, the satellite arrived at the International Space Station from where it is preparing to begin operating. Or that was the plan, because now Japan has decided to retain it due to political tensions in Myanmar, down here on Earth.
According to Reuters, Myanmar’s first satellite in space is being held aboard the International Space Station. Something that probably would not have happened if the coup in Myanmar had not occurred in recent weeks. For now, the Japan Space Agency (JAXA) and a university in the Japanese country will decide what to do with it.
Agriculture and fishing vs. military purposes
What does Japan have to do with all this? The satellite, costing about $ 15 million, was built jointly by Myanmar Aerospace Engineering University and Japan Hokkaido University. Equipped with special cameras, its purpose is to be used to monitor agriculture and fishing.
However, those special cameras it carries can be used for more than farming and fishing. Human rights activists believe that the satellite can be used for military purposes by the junta that took power in Myanmar on February 2. Faced with this fear, Japan’s Hokkaido University has suspended the deployment of the satellite.
The data collected by the satellite cannot be accessed independently by just one of the universities. That is, any use made by one of the parties involved will be seen by the other. Therefore, although the initial idea was that it was used for agriculture and fishing, Japan cannot prevent Myanmar from using it for other purposes (It would not be the first time they use technology for military purposes, they have already blocked social networks). Unless, of course, it retains its display.
On February 20 the satellite arrived at the International Space Station aboard a NASA cargo with supplies. Now Retained within Japan’s Kibo Experiment Module. Japan also has an astronaut, Soichi Noguchi, aboard the International Space Station right now.
Whether or not Japan has the right to retain the satellite is complex to answer. According to Reuters the contract did not say that the satellite can be used for military purposes, but not the opposite. Is It is up to JAXA to decide whether to give control of the satellite to Myanmar or if it is correct or not that it is used for other things than agriculture and fishing.
Via | Reuters