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PENANG will soon have its first Earth station and state-of-the-art Space Technology Centre that will be located at the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) engineering campus in Nibong Tebal.

Known as Angkasa-X Earth Station Farm and Space Technology Centre, it is the first of its kind in the country and is a collaboration between the Angkasa-X Innovation Sdn Bhd, USM and the state government through Digital Penang.

Angkasa-X executive chairman Datuk Dr Sean Seah said the cost of the two facilities is approximately RM30 million and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

“The Angkasa-X Earth Station Farm will be equipped with the main office, external mobile office, antenna system, mobile antenna system, edge data centre and security post.

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An artist’s impression of the Angkasa-X Earth Station Farm.

“Meanwhile, the Space Technology Centre will be equipped with training rooms, electronic and mechanical laboratories, main entrance, server room, mission control room, and clean room.

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An artist’s impression of the Space Technology Centre.

“These two facilities also are the epitome in building the space tech ecosystem for the state and country as a whole,” Sean said in his speech during the groundbreaking ceremony today.

The groundbreaking ceremony today was graced by the guest of honour Penang Governor Tun Ahmad Fuzi Abdul Razak.

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Also present were Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, state Transport and Infrastructure Committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari, state Entrepreneurial Development, Trade, and Industry Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Hussain, Bukit Tambun assemblyman Goh Choon Aik, Seberang Perai City Council (MBSP) mayor Datuk Azhar Arshad, Penang Island City Council (MBPP) mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang, Penang police chief Comm Datuk Mohd Shuhaily Mohd Zain and USM vice-chancellor Prof Dr Faisal Rafiq Mahamd Adikan.

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According to Seah, the Angkasa-X Earth Station Farm would be the receiving ground for the Angkasa-X satellite that will be launched next year.

“Once it goes to the space, we need the ground station to receive the signal. As for the Space Technology Centre, it will be the place where we will build the satellite. So, these two facilities must be built simultaneously.

“Through this project, we envision providing a platform where connectivity is an affordable necessity for nation-building and towards the betterment of mankind.

“In other words, the space tech ecosystem will become the means to elevate the community’s standard of living, including those in non-urban areas,” he said.

Seah added that the Space Technology Centre will also be used for research and development (R&D), assembly, integration and testing of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites to form and operate the Angkasa-X ASEAN-link LEO satellite constellations.

“The aim is to realise Angkasa’s vision of providing internet connectivity as a necessity to bring about social inclusion and digital economic transformation to the rural communities within the ASEAN region.

“The centre also will provide a fertile ground and hands-on experience for science and engineering students, tech professionals as well as the electrical and electronics (E&E) communities in areas of satellite research and development, talent upscaling and data analytics.

“Meanwhile, USM, an institution well known in the areas of aerospace, science and technology, will be working with Angkasa-X as well, offering the first of its kind professional satellite engineering programmes incorporating coursework, lectures and hands-on fieldwork at the Space Technology Centre R&D laboratories,” added Seah.

Dr Faisal described the Earth station and Space Technology Centre as a project with a bigger picture.

“Its vision is to establish an ecosystem for Malaysia’s space industry, and the development of Earth stations will serve as a symbol of the collaborative success.

“The USM engineering campus has been identified as the optimum location for the Earth station since it will provide the highest satellite re-visit time for near-equatorial orbit.

“USM also is committed to continuously supporting Angkasa-X in doing the satellite system research and development through the School of Aerospace Engineering.

“The collaboration with Angkasa-X will allow USM to embark on and explore new frontiers in satellite development, particularly in satellite communication technology,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chow expressed his pride at the groundbreaking event, stating that the Earth station and Space Technology Centre will serve as a critical element to attract more investments into the state.

“I am particularly pleased to see Angkasa-X, USM, and Digital Penang actively leading the state towards welcoming a new wave of strategic investments in the space economy.

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Chow expressed his pride at the groundbreaking event, stating that the Earth station and Space Technology Centre will serve as a critical element to attract more investments into the state.

“Last year, Penang was the highest manufacturing foreign direct investments (FDI) recipient in Malaysia with 98% of Penang’s approved manufacturing investments, driven mainly by the existing investors’ reinvestments into the state.

“Thus, the Earth station and Space Technology Centre will be a great addition to the Penang 50-year industrialisation journey.

“We are marching forward to ensure the sustainability of our robust industrial ecosystem by welcoming a major game-changer in the future development of Penang.

“And I am confident that this will increase further investments for Penang as well as create more business and job opportunities,” he said.