Filipino space scientists and engineers gain new home in ULyS3ES

| Written by Celeste Ann Castillo Llaneta

Video by KIM Quilinguing, UP Media and Public Relations Office


Space science and technology in the Philippines gains a new home in UP Diliman with the inauguration of the University Laboratory for Small Satellites and Space Engineering Systems, or ULyS3ES for short, in the UP College of Engineering’s Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute (EEEI) in Diliman last August 31.


DOST and UP officials perform the high-tech ribbon-cutting ceremony during the inauguration of the University Laboratory for Small Satellites and Space Engineering Systems, or ULyS3ES, at the UP Diliman College of Engineering’s Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute (EEEI) last August 31. From left to right are: UP College of Science Dean Giovanni A. Tapang, UP Diliman Vice-Chancellor for Research and Development Fidel R. Nemenzo, UP Diliman Chancellor Michael L. Tan, DOST-ASTI Acting Director Joel Joseph Marciano, Jr., DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña, DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development Rowena Cristina L. Guevara, and DOST-Science Education Institute Director Josette T. Biyo. Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO.


ULyS3ES-1 and ULyS3ES-2

The ULyS3ES consists of two buildings in the UPD-EEEI complex, dubbed Building 1 and Building 2. ULyS3ES is “an interdisciplinary facility that serves as a pioneering academic hub for research and development (R&D) and instruction innovations in space technology in the Philippines.” Through this new two-building laboratory, engineers and researchers will “collaborate on the development of small satellites through relevant mission planning and the corresponding design, implementation and test of satellite bus and payload systems.”

Building 1 of ULyS3ES (ULyS3ES-1) features office and research spaces that are designed to foster close interactions and open collaboration among the disciplines that contribute to space science and technology, including electrical and electronics engineering, mechanical engineering, physics, environmental science, and space studies. Building 1 also includes administrative and faculty spaces, shared spaces for researchers, a conference and meeting area, and an exhibit area in the lobby. The research laboratory in ULyS3ES-1 includes equipment for functional testing of small satellite components and integrated systems, “clean booths” for small satellite assembly, a thermal-vacuum chamber for space environment testing of nanosatellites as well as rapid prototyping equipment. It also houses the Engineering Model of the 50kh microsatellite, Diwata-2, and a Flight Model (FM) of the 1 kg nanosatellite, Maya-1. These satellite models are functional replicas of the actual satellites that were deployed in space, and are used as test beds for further experimentation, research and instruction.


DOST and UP officials tour the facilities of ULyS3ES Building 1, speaking to Filipino students studying space science and technology abroad via teleconference. Photos by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO.


Building 2 or ULyS3ES-2, located behind Building 1, includes a conference room, classroom and reconfigurable work space, including a “clean booth” for nanosatellite assembly. It also hosts testing facilities for small satellite components and systems, including a Full Anechoic Chamber (FAC), as well as a temperature and humidity test chamber. The FAC, located in its lobby, is a facility for measuring antenna radiation patterns over a frequency range of 600 MHz to 26.5 GHz (extendable to 40 GHz). The radiation patterns show the directional distribution of energy radiated by the antenna; they can therefore give an idea of the antenna performance in providing wireless range and coverage. The temperature and humidity test chamber, on the other hand, is used to mimic conditions that products might reasonably experience in their eventual working environment.

From “University Laboratory” to ULyS3ES

Present at the inauguration ceremony were officials from: the Department of Science and Technology (DOST); the DOST Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI); the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD); the DOST Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI); the Sustained Support for Local Space Technology and Applications Mastery, Innovation and Advancement (STAMINA4Space) Program, which is the Philippine government’s space technology program succeeding the Philippine Scientific Earth Observation Microsatellite (PHL-Microsat) program; and, the Space Science and Technology Proliferation through University Partnerships (STEP-UP) Project. Also present were: officials from UP Diliman, the UP College of Engineering and the College of Science, and the UP EEEI; officials and representatives from private industry partners, the Aerospace Industry Association of the Philippines and the Philippine Navy; members of the University Space Engineering Consortium of the Philippines (UNISEC-Philippines); and, representatives from academe and the media attended.


Dr. Marciano speaks about the origins of the acronym for the University Laboratory for Small Satellites and Space Engineering Systems. Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO.


In his welcome message, Dr. Joel Joseph Marciano, Jr., the acting director of DOST-ASTI, program leader of STAMINA4Space and a professor at the UP EEEI, explained the inspiration behind the acronym ULyS3ES, which was not, he said, Ulysses, or in the original Greek (Odysseus), the mythological warrior whose exploits are told in Homer’s the Iliad and the Odyssey. Instead, the acronym came from the name “University Laboratory for Small Satellites and Space Engineering Systems” itself.

“The name came about by a rather strong notion in our heads about what we set out to do. We were really just trying to build a university laboratory,” Dr. Marciano said. “As a university laboratory, it embodies and hopes to fulfill the vital role of the academia in advancing and pushing the boundaries of knowledge in space technology and cascading its benefits to society.” After picking the letters “U”, “L” and “Y” from the words “University Laboratory”, he added that “the rest of the letters were not hard to flesh out.”

Nevertheless, he said that the new laboratory might as well have been inspired by Odysseus, too, as he compared space technology to an epic adventure beset by many challenges, much as Odysseus faced throughout his journey. And similar to Odysseus and his crew, Filipino scholars who are sent abroad to study and work on space science and technology also yearn to come home and find an application for their training and hard work. That academic home is ULyS3ES, Dr. Marciano stressed. “So also the Filipinos who have received training abroad, stayed overseas and established themselves there, now have a reason to come back home to the Philippines. ULyS3ES welcomes them all.”

Dr. Marciano to head the Philippine Space Agency


UP EEEI Director Michael Angelo Pedrasa. Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO.


Dr. Michael Angelo Pedrasa, Director of the UP EEEI, cited the ULyS3ES as a significant contribution to the UP EEEI’s vision to become the National Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineering. “As the national institute, we should be internationally recognized for achieving national impact and global significance. This has become one of our ways of getting international recognition.“ Through the STAMINA4Space program, he said, the UP EEEI is now a member of the University Space Engineering Consortium or UNISEC-Global, an international nonprofit body whose primary objective is to help create a world where space science and technology is used in every country for peaceful purposes and for the benefit of humankind.


UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan. Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO


UP Diliman Chancellor Michael L. Tan cited the Greek mythology roots of the acronym ULyS3ES as a reflection of the well-rounded education that UP offers through its general education system. The establishment of ULyS3ES also brings to the fore the breadth of UP’s research work, which he says extends to all spheres: lupa or terrestrial research; laot or research in marine science; and now, langit as well, with ULyS3ES and the STAMINA4Space program. He expressed a wish that “the College of Engineering and ULyS3ES will fire up the imaginations not just of engineers but also the College of Science and all the other colleges as well,” including those from the arts and humanities and from the social sciences.


DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña. Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO.


For his part, DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña stated that the DOST is “proud of this laboratory,“ and of the country’s space technology development program, which was given a total budget of around P10 billion of which P7.5 billion has been spent since the space technology development program was started in 2013. The signing of Republic Act No. 11363 or the Philippine Space Act into law last August 8 established the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA), as well as a Philippine Space Council under the Office of the Philippine President. Secretary de la Peña suggested that the DOST and UP should have a joint strategy to steer the future of the PhilSA in accordance with national goals. In relation to that, the DOST Secretary announced that Dr. Marciano would head the PhilSA as its first director-general, an announcement DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara later reiterated.

The inauguration included a ribbon-cutting ceremony, followed by a guided tour of ULyS3ES Buildings 1 and 2 and their facilities, work spaces and equipment. In the last part of the program, former UP College of Engineering Dean Rizalinda L. De Leon, PCIEERD Executive Director Enrico C. Paringit, UP Diliman Vice-Chancellor for Research and Development Fidel R. Nemenzo, DOST Usec. Guevara, and STeP-UP Project Leader Paul Jason Co delivered messages congratulating the STAMINA4Space team of engineers and scientists, and the DOST on the successful inauguration of ULyS3ES.