Govt to open tender for RM110m satellite project, axes RazakSat-2

The Cabinet in August agreed to proceed with the development of the remote sensing satellite, but insisted on an RFP

pic by TMR

PUTRAJAYA will hold a tender to develop a remote sensing satellite worth an estimated RM110 million as it seeks to cut costs and reduce reliance on foreign technology in satellite imagery.

The government plans to call for an open tender for the development of a new satellite, as it is already spending about RM20 million a year on foreign satellite image subscription and data services, said Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin (picture) in a parliamentary reply recently.

Yeo said the recommended request for proposal (RFP) model is to develop a one-metre resolution remote sensing satellite, weighing between 50kg and 60kg that would cost over RM100 million. The estimated fee includes costs on construction, launch and insurance.

The expenses will be borne by the successful bidder from the RFP. Meanwhile, returns will be made through an off-take subscription by the government and the commercialisation of the satellite and other data not subscribed by the government to other customers as stated in the RFP, Yeo said.

“The government can spend a fixed amount on required data via this arrangement, while creating opportunities for existing talents to contribute to the development of the country,” the minister said.

Yeo said the Cabinet in August decided to axe the RazakSat-2 programme as operational costs had spiked since its launch from the Republic of Marshall Islands in July 2009. Cost for the observation satellite increased from RM200.8 million in December 2010 to RM367.4 million in February 2018.

The Cabinet then agreed to proceed with the development of the remote sensing satelite, but insisted on an RFP. It is not known if details of the RFP have been confirmed or if a call for the tender has been made since.

The Malaysian Space Agency (MySA) is in charge of the tender.

The implementation of the new satellite programme will be supported by MySA’s two ground stations — in Banting, Selangor; and in Temerloh, Pahang. MySA is also in the process of completing its facilities for the assembly, integration and test of satellite workforce in Banting.

“Malaysia’s remote sensing satellite development programme will be implemented through a number of initiatives, including through private partnerships with an emphasis on the development of local talents.

“The scope of the programme includes technology identification, strategic partners, training, technology transfer, and the operation and control of satellite missions,” Yeo said.

MySA was established in February this year through the merger of two space-related agencies, the National Space Agency and the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency. The government estimated savings of over US$4.9 million (RM20.48 million) from the merger by removing overlapping functions.