Space is the expanse above us, which can bridge our
islands, communities and wherever Filipinos may go.
Rockets and space travel uplift us in mind, spirit and
body; Being in space, building in space, with its high
vantage point, empowers us.
The usual images that come to mind of space and space agencies are of rockets, astronauts, and of
sending space probes to explore the outer reaches of our solar system and galaxy, among others. These
are valid and natural, and they have a place in our collective consciousness that yearns to understand
our origins and place in the universe. Sending satellites and spacecraft into orbit, however, does not
always necessarily entail an exploration or outward spectating towards the vast expanse of space. It can
also be used to put an artificial and helpful eye to view the lands and oceans below on Earth from
In the Philippines, our satellites and their cameras are currently trained back down towards Earth to
gather data about our natural and built environment. The data gathered is computed upon and
transformed into information so we can make informed and intelligent action here on terra firma. In
that sense, these satellites that generate and compute data are like computers, and sending them into
space, we say, is akin to putting computers in orbit. Therefore, it should be easier to appreciate how
space improves our lives. Just as how we have come to depend on computers, satellites are computers
placed hundreds of kilometers above us. Being there gives them a high and strategic vantage point,
which makes them more powerful, helpful and effective in impacting our lives.
In Our Place in Space, we compile and select showcases from the prior
initiatives in Space Science
Technology and Applications (SSTA) in the Philippines. These activities have been undertaken by
different groups from the academe, research institutions and government agencies, which we
acknowledge at the end of each of the three Volumes in the compilation. Each Volume highlights a
different component of SSTA that contribute to the growth of the space ecosystem in the country. The
simple and humble goal is to create better awareness of local SSTA capabilities and the benefits
they bring to Filipino society.
In coming up with the compilation, we considered the segmentation of the space economy and industry
into two complementary sectors: the Upstream and the Downstream.
Upstream space activities consist of the design, assembly, integration and testing of satellites and
other spacecraft and their payloads, systems, subsystems, and components. This also includes the
infrastructure necessary to launch and operate them from Earth. In other words, the upstream segment
is the sector of space that makes or manufactures, controls and launches objects such as satellites,
rovers, space probes and other spacecraft into space orbit. Downstream space uses these spacecraft and
systems to deliver products and services for scientific, experimental and commercial use on Earth, such
as telecommunications, navigation, surveillance and Earth observation, among others.
Our country has been an active user in the downstream of satellites and space. That is, the utilization
of the images, data, communication and other services enabled by satellites. That is valuable since the
downstream is expected to largely account for the growth of the space sector and therefore its
contributions to the economic growth of nations. Data, connectivity and the resulting actionable
information and intelligence is the currency of the knowledge economy. Current downstream activities
in SSTA are discussed in Volume 1: Space Data Utilization.
A strong presence in the space upstream sector is also important for our country. The upstream
components of the space value chain that offer a strategic advantage to those who master and control
such technologies. For example, the detailed knowledge and competence on the upstream engagement
serves as the basis for the development of standards and operations that influence the downstream,
such as end user applications and the needs of satellite operators. Building space satellite
and buses equip us with the wherewithal to adapt to and anticipate evolving downstream requirements,
thus the ability to customize solutions for existing and new downstream verticals. Building
enables us to understand the source of the solutions – the source of the data. Current upstream
activities in SSTA in the Philippines are addressed primarily in Volume 2: Space
By engaging in both the upstream and downstream of space, we can instantiate a “virtuous cycle” in
exponentially growing and exciting new area that our country should nurture and feed. The virtuous
cycle will enable us to develop endogenous S&T capacity that will supplant the vicious cycle of
The downstream and upstream SSTA activities that have catapulted our country’s capabilities in space
need to be proliferated, disseminated and sustained. In Volume 3: Capacity-building,
Sustainability , we provide a window to the inward- and outward-facing initiatives aimed at
people, institutions, linkages, partnerships and outreach activities. These activities are essential in
cascading the gains and benefits obtained from our satellite development and space data mobilization
efforts to society.
By capturing the best (so far) of our nascent Philippine space ecosystem in these pages, we hope that
you will find them not only informative, but also inspiring. Through these value creation activities in
space, we shall bridge, uplift and empower the nation.
Within these pages, we find and affirm Our Place in Space.
Links to Our Place in Space E-Books