[BIRDS-3 Media Watch] Damage Control After NayaPatrika Interview

Nayapatrika's front page today. 

BIRDS-3 project has always been prudent about interviews we give out to the media. We are extremely weary that things would 1) blow out of proportion 2) that media will either misquote or write something that's completely fabricated. These could potentially compromise our relationship with our stakeholders, and that's the very last thing we want to do. 

Well, both happened in today's NayaPatrika. The good thing about all this is that everything was on the record, and the author has all the recording if necessary legal action has to be taken. However, it makes no sense to go through all this when things have already been published. The only way forward is to document what's been written and what was actually said.

[The interview was given by the author to NayaPatrika at 3:00am JST because the media wanted to publish it by morning]

[HEADLINE]
ठूला स्याटलाइट पनि बनाउन सक्छौँ
Nope. Never said that. I think the journalist has no concept of how quoting someone works.

[FIRST QUESTION]
स्याटलाइट निर्माण कसरी गर्नुभयो ? यो कसको योजना हो ?
(How was the satellite built, who's project is this?)

स्याटलाइट बनाउने प्रस्ताव सुरुमा मैले नै नास्टसँग राखेको हुँ । जापानमा यही विषयमा पिएचडीका लागि मैले आवेदन दिएको थिएँ । जापानले छात्रवृत्ति दिएपछि म र हरि (हरिराम श्रेष्ठ)जी नास्टमार्फत नेपाल सरकारको सहयोगमा क्युटेक विश्वविद्यालयसँग आबद्ध भयौँ । यो प्रोजेक्टका लागि हाम्रो आठजनाको टिम छ । त्यसमा हामी दुई नेपाली छौँ । भुटान, फिलिपिन्स र जापानका पनि दुई–दुईजना छन् ।  नेतृत्वचाहिँ मैले गरेको छु । स्याटलाइट बनाउन करिब एक वर्षको समय लाग्यो । करिब ६ महिना यसको पूर्वपरीक्षण गर्न लाग्यो । अब प्रक्षेपणको तयारी छ । हामीले यही चरणमा जापानबाहेक भुटानको पनि पहिलो स्याटलाइट बनायौँ । पाराग्वे र फिलिपिन्सको पनि पहिलो स्याटलाइट बनाउँदै छौँ । 

First of all, I never explicitly stated that I was the one who brought the project to NAST. Also my PhD is not in anyway related to the BIRDS-3 project. It was the effort from my advising professor and principal investigator of the BIRDS project, Prof. Mengu Cho and Kyushu Institute of Technology. I was following protocols. We wanted a host organization to take leadership on behalf of Nepal. Nepal Academy of Science and Technology undertook that role. 

We have total of 8 students working in the project. Two from Nepal, two from Sri Lanka, three from Japan and one from Bhutan. BIRDS-2 project built first satellite for Bhutan and BIRDS-4 is building the first for Paraguay. 

[SECOND QUESTION]
स्याटलाइट पठाएर नेपाललाई के फाइदा छ ? 
(What's are the benefits of satellite for Nepal)

नेपालको पहिलो भूउपग्रह बनेको छ, देशका लागि यो नै ठूलो उपलब्धि हो । नेपालको आफ्नै जनशक्ति यसमा दक्ष बनेको छ । प्रविधिको विकास गरेर अब नेपालमै अरू स्याटलाइट बनाउन सक्छौँ । अहिले तयार भएको भूउपग्रहले अन्तरिक्षबाट नेपालको तस्बिर खिच्छ । जसलाई हामीले नेपालमै बसेर अध्ययन गर्न सक्छौँ । यसलाई व्यावसायिक प्रयोजनमा पनि प्रयोग गर्न सकिन्छ । सञ्चारका लागि पनि स्याटलाइटको प्रयोग गर्न सकिन्छ । त्यो उद्देश्यसम्म पुग्नका लागि यो हाम्रो पहिलो खुड्किलो हो ।   

The RGB image we take is primarily for outreach and media not for commercial purpose. However, we expect to the do that in the future if the progress is made. We cannot use this satellite for communication, however, we have a LoRa module on board which we could potentially use for store and forward missions in the future. The key point to remember is 1) the satellite is for technology demonstration 2) it's the first step for future applications

[THIRD QUESTION]
नेपालमा अरू के सम्भावना छ ? सरकारले के गर्नुपर्छ ?
(What's possible in Nepal? What needs to be done by the government?)

यस्तै प्रविधिबाट ठूला स्याटलाइट पनि बनाउन सकिन्छ । नानो स्याटलाइट एक युनिटको हो । यस्तै प्रकृतिको तीन युनिटसम्मको बनाउन सकिन्छ । यसका लागि नास्ट सकारात्मक छ । स्याटलाइटका लागि ग्राउन्ड स्टेसनहरू विश्वभर १५–१६ वटा मात्रै छन् । त्यस्तै राम्रो ग्राउन्ड स्टेसन नेपालमा पनि बन्न लागेको छ । यो अर्को खुसीको कुरा हो । स्याटलाइट बनाउन आवश्यक उपकरण र सामग्रीहरू नेपालमा उपलब्ध छैनन् । सरकारले आवश्यक नीति बनाएर पर्याप्त बजेटको व्यवस्था गरिदिनुपर्छ । अनुसन्धान र प्रयोगलाई प्रोत्साहन गर्नुपर्छ ।

Big satellites have never been on the agenda at the moment. The current satellite is a 1U CubeSat standard. The sweet spot for doing meaningful missions is a 3U as shown by commercial, data mining and communication companies. We could, if possible, aim for a 3U. But that's after we improve our baseline understanding of the technology involved.

Regarding groundstations, well, there are many, many groundstations all round the world. What I was getting at was the BIRDS ground station network spread across Americas, Africa and Asia. NepaliSat-1 can utilize that. 

The rest is fine. 

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