Update on Bhutan’s Space Program and Ground Station
Cheki Dorji graduated with Bachelor of Technology in Civil Engineering from National Institute of Technology, Jaipur, India. With his country starting a space program, he took a different career path to participate in the country’s space program. He was involved in his country’s first satellite project where BHUTAN-1 was launched in 2018. Currently, he is an engineer with the Department of IT and Telecom under Ministry of Information and Communications of Royal Government of Bhutan.
Deriving inspiration from His Majesty The King’s vision, Bhutan joined BIRDS-2 project in late 2016 held in Kyushu Institute of Technology, Japan. BIRDS project is an international collaborative platform, supported by Japan and specifically targeting non-space faring countries, to have hands-on experience in designing, developing and operating 1U CubeSats. Four Bhutanese engineers participated in BIRDS-2 project where the country’s first satellite called BHUTAN-1was launched by June 2018.
Being partner country to BIRDS project, Bhutan built a ground station to be a part of BIRDS Ground Station Network. The country’s ground station is manned by engineers from the Department of IT and Telecom under the Ministry of Information and Communications. Besides tracking BIRDS-2 satellites, the ground station also tracks and operates recently launched BIRDS-3 satellites. Bhutan ground station was the first station to receive beacons from BIRDS-3.
The ground station is also being used for educational purposes where engineering students from a university were invited to see the station. The department also plans to have programs for space awareness and STEM engagement of youths.