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  4. “With the APRSAF framework, we believe that we will have more cooperation and more measures to solve our problems related to natural resources, the environment, and disaster in the region.” Professor Dr. Doan Minh Chung, Director of Space Technology Institute (STI), Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST), Vietnam

“With the APRSAF framework, we believe that we will have more cooperation and more measures to solve our problems related to natural resources, the environment, and disaster in the region.” Professor Dr. Doan Minh Chung, Director of Space Technology Institute (STI), Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST), Vietnam

The APRSAF Secretariat conducted an interview with Professor Dr. Doan Minh Chung, Director of the Space Technology Institute (STI), Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST), on the occasion of the APRSAF-22 in Bali, Indonesia, held in December 2015. He was a key player when VAST hosted APRSAF-20 in Hanoi in 2013, and also when VAST became a data provider node of Sentinel Asia in 2015.

After Hosting APRSAF-20

Secretariat

Have you found any changes in Vietnam’s space activities after hosting APRSAF-20 in Hanoi in 2013?

Prof. Chung

When I related to our president (at VAST) the idea to host APRSAF-20, he was very cheerful and supportive. During APRSAF-20, the scientific community was able to understand deeply the space activity in the region, especially with the very strong support of Japan through the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

After APRSAF-20, we had released information to the media, including TV and the Internet. Through these outlets, people and communities could gain a deeper understanding of the activities in space technology and they can recognize that Vietnam has joined APRSAF, which is very useful for us.

Consequently, the government and communities strongly support space technology. Indeed, Vietnam has benefitted greatly from space technology. We have many scientific contracts with local governments to use space technology in managing natural resources, the environment, and disasters.

Secretariat

I know that Vietnam has been continuing to promote the use of space technology, especially remote sensing, for agricultural and disaster management. Your people are more aware of the use of space technology after APRSAF-20, aren’t they?

Prof. Chung

Very much. They acknowledge that space technology, especially satellite imaging, is the best way to see the overall picture of every object on the Earth’s surface. With different technologies in remote sensing and GIS, they can estimate the changes in natural resources.

Secretariat

Is it the APRSAF deemed to have an important role by the local people?

Prof. Chung

It is very important and significant, especially for the high-level government. Their support was strengthened after APRSAF-20.

Sentinel Asia

Secretariat

How did Vietnam become a member of Sentinel Asia? Has it been useful to your country?

Prof. Chung

We started to cooperate with Sentinel Asia through the ESCAP network, to which I had access as a member and a core group part of VAST. Through the ESCAP network, we collaborated in providing the VNREDSat-1 image to countries ravaged by disasters. In turn, we have also received satellite images from Sentinel Asia when disasters occurred in our country since 2014. Through this, we recognized that we should join and register as a provider node of Sentinel Asia. We recognize that the cooperation with JAXA and Japan is very important; both are strategic partners of Vietnam.

VAST has signed an agreement with JAXA. We proposed to the president of VAST the importance and urgency of joining Sentinel Asia to exchange data. We have our first earth observation satellite VNREDSat-1, and for the weather, we have other satellite systems. Using them, we can contribute to Sentinel Asia. We hope to receive strong support from Sentinel Asia for disaster management.

Secretariat

I think it is a great step for the promotion of science and Earth/space activities for Vietnam to be a data provider of Sentinel Asia. You have been continuing to enforce your competence in the space field.

Prof. Chung

This September, we organized a signing ceremony of an MOU between JAXA, VAST, and Water Resource Directorate (WRD-MARD). The vice minister of the Ministry of the Agriculture and Rural Development has signed an MOU with JAXA and VAST, in which we also committed to joining as a data provider of Sentinel Asia.

As our next step, we have submitted the proposal to be supported by Sentinel Asia in setting up a new system for quicker data exchange between Sentinel Asia and VAST through Wideband InterNetworking engineering test and Demonstration Satellite (WINDS) system. We have received a positive response, but we still have to prepare the budget proposal with input from VAST for the new upgrade of the antenna.

At present, the current antenna and system are operated by the National Remote Sensing Department of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE). But they have agreed to move this WINDS system to VAST to utilize the system for disaster management in this cooperation.

We hope that the president of VAST will approve our proposed antenna upgrade. After this, we will launch one project using remote sensing satellite data of JAXA and of Vietnam to research and study disaster in one area of Vietnam.

Secretariat

Apart from VAST, your government is ready to contribute to Sentinel Asia and the international community. Is this the case for using Earth observation data in your country?

Prof. Chung

There are many organizations in Vietnam from different ministries working on disaster management using remote sensing, but VAST is the contact point and representative of Vietnam in this field. In addition, VAST/STI is the contact point in cooperative efforts with JAXA and Japan with respect to the technical support for other ministries to use satellite data for disaster management.

Vietnamese Satellites

Secretariat

I see. Apart from Sentinel Asia, can you tell us about your future plans after VNREDSat-1, your satellite program?

Prof. Chung

As you know, as a planned project of the Vietnam Space Center funded by the ODA of Japan, we will have the first SAR satellite by 2018. The 2nd SAR Satellite will be integrated in Vietnam in the Hoa Lac Hi-tech Space Center. This means that by 2021, we will have more than two SAR satellites. We are planning to conduct a feasibility study for VNREDSat-2. This optical satellite has very high resolution. Another one is the hyperspectral VNREDSat-2B.

Message to APRSAF Community

Secretariat

Vietnam has a very firm progress in its space activities related to the use of remote sensing data and to providing and acquiring data with your own satellites. Do you have any message to the countries or organizations in APRSAF to follow in Vietnam’s path?

Prof. Chung

I think Vietnam is a beginner in the space technology community of the region, although the interest and very strong support from the government will help in future. With the understanding of our policymakers and the scientific community and in cooperation with regional and international groups, especially with the support from Japan and JAXA, we now have good plans for enhancing our space technology capability.

I think that the importance of the application of space technology now is very well known within the community, but to develop that and to successfully grow in this realm, we need a strong support from the government and very good cooperation with the community in the region.

APRSAF is an ideal community for its close and very friendly cooperation. Many activities can be expected. I think in the APRSAF framework, we will have more cooperation and more media coverage and more measures to solve problems related to natural resources, the environment, and disaster in the region.

Secretariat

Thank you.

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