APRSAF Water Rocket Event, Poster Competition and Plenary Meeting

APRSAF Water Rocket Event, Poster Competition and Plenary Meeting

The Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF) is an annual event where regional space agencies come together to enhance collaboration and expand future cooperation in space applications. The four APRSAF Working Groups reflect the major areas of cooperation within the region.

Earth Observation (EO)
Satellite Communication (SC)
Space Education and Awareness (SEA)
Space Environment Utilisation (SEU)

Australia was well represented at APRSAF-18 in Singapore 6th – 9th December, 2011. This reflects growing activity within Australia, and the recent announcement of the Principles for a National Space Industry Policy. I was honoured to represent Australia in the Space Education and Awareness Working Group meeting and support the Australian team at the APRSAF Water Rocket Event. I have presented a brief overview of these events below. For a more detailed account of these activities please visit the APRSAF blog.....Naomi Mathers

APRSAF Water Rocket Event

From the initial proposal at APRSAF-11 in Canberra, the Water Rocket Event has grown to include 97 students and teachers from 17 countries, including teams from Nigeria and Columbia. The teams started by introducing themselves and their countries. The Australian students, Darcy Molloy and Jack Ennis, spoke about Australia’s natural wonders and some of our dangerous wildlife. They also talked about how their teacher, Ian Lightbody, inspired them to start launching water rockets.
After their presentations the students were treated to a briefing from Prof Kubota. Prof Kubota is the co-chair of the APRSAF Space Education and Awareness Working Group and the Guidance and Control team leader on the Japanese Hayabusa mission. It was very inspirational for the students to hear about his personal experience of this mission and get an update on some of the latest results.

After lunch the students built water rocket dragsters and the teachers had a demonstration of a new launch system that is triggered by brain activity. The day finished with a briefing for the launch competition and a welcome reception.

The launch day arrived and everyone was very excited and a little nervous…..the students because they were keen to do well, and the organisers because they knew the launch window was limited by the arrival of the afternoon thunderstorm!

The students were given 90min to construct their rockets. Although all students were given exactly the same materials, their designs varied, reflecting their creativity and understanding of the physics of rocketry. Before the official competition started the students were given two practice launches to test their rockets and make any last minute adjustments. After the official competition photograph everything was ready and the competition began!

The students had two launches and points were awarded depending on how close the rocket landed to the target: 100 points zone A; 80 points zone B; 50 points zone C. The final score would be the combination of these two scores. If two students received the same score the winner would be decided based on the measured distance from the target.

The Australian students demonstrated that they were well prepared. All their launches landed within the target zone and Darcy Molloy landed his rocket closest to the target for the whole competition (0.5m). As the last few rockets were launched the thunder started rolling in and the heavens opened. Apparently Singapore has the highest instance of people being killed by lightening so it was VERY important that the competition was finished before the storm.

The winners were announced during the award ceremony. Congratulations to:
1st Sokhom Nuon (Cambodia)
2nd Trevor Yu Hong Ng (Singapore)
3rd Phetcharat Phammayannarangsi (Thailand)

Before heading home the Australian students spent two days exploring Singapore. On the first day they travelled to China Town with many of the other participants. They visited a Buddhist temple and did a little shopping in China Town before heading to Sentosa, an island fun park. On the second day they went to the Singapore Zoo where they had breakfast with the orangutans, handled a boa constrictor, feed macaws and giraffes and road an elephant.

APRSAF Space Education and Awareness Working Group Meeting

It was wonderful to be reunited with many old friends from the region. I’ve been participating in the Working Group meetings since 2004 and look forward to catching up with the group and hearing what everyone has been up to. The meeting begins with country reports from each of the members. For anyone who thinks Australia isn’t doing much in the way of space education I would like to share with you the country report I presented. The other country reports will be uploaded shortly on the APRSAF website and the SEA WG wiki. Everyone is welcome to view the wiki site and we encourage educators to join the wiki and share their resources and experiences. The results from the Water Rocket event were presented. The event continues to grow in popularity and all agreed that the standard is also increasing. Preparations were started for next year’s competition and planning started for an advanced category. Consider this as advanced warning to all Australian students to start practicing!

Jonathan Hung from the Singapore Space and Technology Association (SSTA) presented education activities in Singapore including the five day Space Academy program and the Singapore Space Challenge. Both of these programs are open to international students.

I presented VSSEC’s new programs including the Primary Expedition to the M.A.R.S. Base, the Robotic Mission to Mars and the Star Search program. There was a lot of interest in VSSEC’s approach and a great deal of interest in accessing the robotic mission. I just hope we can keep up with the demand.

JAXA demonstrated their new flight materials including the simple wind tunnel. This is constructed from very cheap materials and is a great way to investigate flight in the classroom. Please contact me if you would like the instructions. The working group members had a great deal of fun testing the wind tunnel…..there’s no reason why the students should have all the fun!

LAPAN (the Indonesian Space Agency) presented their rocketry payload competition. Next year they will open the competition to international students. It will be good for Australian students to have access to such a competition. Visit the LAPAN website to watch a video of the 2011 competition (videos Video Komurindo 2011).

In the afternoon there was a joint session of the Space Environment Utilisation Working Group, the Space Education and Awareness Working Group and the Earth Observation Working Group. JAXA Astronaut, Soichi Noguchi presented “The Earth View from Space”. He shared his experience of viewing and photographing the Earth from the ISS and some of the results of the Astronaut Photography of the Earth project. During his mission Soichi shared his pictures via Twitter @Astro_Soichi

APRSAF Plenary

After the Working Group meetings are finished everyone comes together for the main APRSAF Plenary. The Plenary includes country reports from each of the space agencies and reports on the various APRSAF projects. Michele Clement, Manager of the Australian Space Policy Unit, gave an overview of the release of the Principles for a National Space Industry Policy, the Australian Space Research Program and the Climate R3 initiative.

In the evening the Association of Space Explorers hosted “Asians in Space: Achievements of Human Spaceflight in Asian Countries” at the Science Centre of Singapore. The event featured Dr Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu, Mr Soichi Noguchi, Dr Talgat Amangeldiyevich Mussabayev and Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor. This event reached out to the public and celebrated the achievements of astronauts from the Asia-Pacific region.


The final day of the APRSAF Plenary included reports on the APRSAF Initiatives including Sentinel Asia, STAR, UNIFORM and SAFE. These initiatives were established to build capacity within the region and encourage collaboration. Details are available on the APRSAF website. Malaysia was announced as the host for APRSAF-19. The National Space Agency (ANGKASA) will host the event 11th-14th December, 2012, under the theme “Enriching Quality of Life Through Innovative Space Programs”.

Try Zero-G

The outcomes of the “Try Zero G” activity were presented. This was very exciting because I never thought I would be part of a team that had an experiment conducted on the International Space Station. 10 proposals were received from 3 countries and 3 experiments were conducted, one each from Australia, Malaysia and Bangladesh. Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa conducted the experiments on the 22nd September, 2011. For Australia’s experiment he investigated if a compass would point to the north in space. He compared the compass position with the alignment of the ISS and found that the compass did align itself with the Earth’s magnetic field and point to the north. The video is available on VSSEC’s YouTube Channel

The most exciting thing is that this opportunity will be offered again next year. Primary and Secondary students are invited to propose an experiment. Get your thinking caps on because the applications are due by the 27th February, 2012. All the details are available on the VSSEC website.

APRSAF Poster Competition

The 2011 APRSAF Poster Competition was conducted under the theme “The next 50 years in Space”. 30 posters were submitted from 10 countries, including 3 from Australia. The posters were displayed in the foyer where the APRSAF delegates met during breaks. The delegates were asked to vote for the poster they thought best addressed the theme.

With a total of 146 votes cast the final results were:
Best poster: Annisa Ulayya Zalfa (Indonesia)
Best poster: Xin Ying Lim (Malaysia)
Special Award: Bin Jing Chan (Malaysia)
Special Award: Kyoko Sasaki (Japan)

Certificates were awarded to all students. A calendar will be produced featuring the students’ artwork; an electronic copy will be made available through the APRSAF website. In recognition of 2012 being declared as the United Nations International Year of Cooperatives, the theme “Friends in Space” was selected for the 2012 Poster Competition. A formal announcement of the Australian competition will be made through the VSSEC website and CAPCOM in early 2012.

The final event was a technical tour of either the Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing (CRISP) or ST Electronics who manufacture Satcom and Sensor Systems. I chose the ST Electronics tour and was blown away by the scale of production and the size of their international business for what appears to be a small endeavour in Singapore.

Please contact me if you would like any additional information about any of the programs mentioned.