Viet Nam yesterday started work on its first space centre, a project expected to enable the nation to become a master of space technology by 2020.
The first made-in-Viet Nam satellite is about to be made and assembled by the centre, located in Ha Noi's Hoa Lac Hi-tech Park.
The Viet Nam Space Centre in perspective. The centre is expected to turn Viet Nam into a leading nation in space technology by 2020. — Photo courtesy by JICA Viet Nam
The 9ha space centre has been built with about US$688 million provided mostly by Japanese official development assistance (ODA).
Pham Anh Tuan, director of the Viet Nam National Satellite Centre, said Japanese experts would finish a detailed design for the centre by the end of this year.
He also expected the land clearance to be finished next year's end, so that the building of the centre's infrastructure can commence in early 2014.
Vietnamese engineers and scientists will work with Japanese experts to manufacture the first satellite in Japan and put it into space in the centre in 2017.
It also marked the first step in strategic co-operation between Viet Nam and Japan in space technology, he said.
Tuan said Viet Nam had already sent 24 leading engineers from the Ministry of Science and Technology to Japan to learn how to operate the space centre.
For the next three years, about 100 other engineers would be sent to do master satellite courses at five Japanese universities, he said.
After finishing, they would work with Japanese companies manufacturing and assembling satellites, he added.
A total of about 350 engineers and scientists would be trained in space technology, he said. "We are at least 25 years behind developed countries and 10 years behind other countries in the region," he added.
In 1980, the first Vietnamese astronaut, Pham Tuan, took part in a cosmic flight and carried out scientific experiments in outer space, he said.
"However, we have only begun to focus on space technology sector since 2006," he said, adding that economic difficulties were to blame.
Toshio Nagase, senior representative of Japan International Co-operation Agency in Viet Nam, said data sent from the satellite helped Viet Nam cope with natural disasters and climate change.