Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology
Vietnam National Space Center
Vietnam national space center
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Made-in-Vietnam NanoDragon satellite ready for final test before launch

3U Cubesat NanoDragon, developed by Vietnam National Space Center, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, weighs approximately 4 kilograms, has been planned to be put into orbit September this year, coincident with the Center’s 10th anniversary.

VNSC researchers participate in NanoDragon development

NanoDragon is the result of “Nano-class satellite development, launch and trial operation” project, under the “National Science and Technology Program on space technology from 2016 to 2020”.  Its design, integration and functional tests were conducted entirely in Vietnam by VNSC researchers. More over, the structure and power distribution unit are completely made in Vietnam.

Full NanoDragon

The satellite will be working on Sun synchronized orbit (SSO), at 520 kilometers high from the earth, with two main missions: Automatic Identification System – AIS for vessels tracking and monitoring; optical sensor for taking pictures to verify the performance of the satellite attitude control system on orbit.


Size [mm] 100 x 100 x 340.5
Weight [kg]  4
Orbit Hight: 520km

Inclination: 97.2˚

Payload AIS receiver: 162 Mhz frequency

Optical camera: spatial resolution < 70m

Frequencies Telemetry downlink frequency: 437 Mhz (UHF)

Command uplink frequency: 145 Mhz (VHF)

Mission data downlink frequency: 2250 Mhz (S-band)

Attitude control 3 axes, using magnetic torque and reaction wheels

NanoDragon has been reaching its last steps in the development. Its integration has been completed, it also passed functional tests. It has now been sent to Kyushu Institute of Technology, Japan, where it will be put on environment tests (launch environment and space environment simulations).

NanoDragon in the pack to Japan

As resulted by the Covid-19 pandemic, all the tests will be conducted by 1 VNSC researcher, currently doing his PhD in the institute, and other researchers in VNSC will join via online platform. The schedule of the tests in Kyushu Institute of Technology is listed below:

– March 8 to 14, 2021: Thermal vacuum test

– March 15, 2021: Fit-check 1st time

– March 16 to 17, 2021: Vibration test

– March 19, 2021: Shock test

– March 20, 2021: Fit-check 2nd time

Vibration test, shock test and thermal vacuum test are the last steps in the satellite’s hardware development. After testing, the satellite will return to Vietnam, waiting for launch. In the mean time, flight software can still be checked, altered and optimized, ensuring smooth operation. Japan’s Epsilon rocket is expected to launch the NanoDragon following the 2nd “Innovative satellite technology demonstration” program, which will have taken place in September 2021.

In line with the satellite development, a ground station is also being built for operation after launch. Its hardware assembly is very close to completion, and Vietnam National Space Center is currently planning for trial operation.

Before NanoDragon, PicoDragon (1 kilogram) has been made by Vietnam successfully and was launched in 2013 with signals received. MicroDragon (50 kilograms) has also been developed by the group of 36 young VNSC researchers under Japanese experts’ supervision, and was brought free of charge into orbit in January, 2019 by Japan. MicroDragon has sent pictures to ground station in Japan successfully from space.

The development of NanoDragon in Vietnam is the next milestone in the roadmap to mastering small satellite technology, makes the development of small earth observation satellites available following the plan of “Made in Vietnam” satellites development. The event has also been reported by Vietnam Television with belief “Dream on highly-ranked Vietnam space industry no more far away