A Singaporean in space by 2015?

Singapore will soon see a greater push into developments for a space industry (AP photo/Gary C. Knapp)

A Singapore hi-tech start-up plans to develop a space science education and send the first Singaporean to space by 2015. The start-up, IN.Genius, signed a memorandum of understanding Thursday between the Singapore Science Centre Board and the Singapore Space and Technology Association, as part of their plans.

On the same day, the government announced plans to set up a new Office for Space Technology and Industry, according to second minister for trade and industry S. Iswaran at the Global Space Technology Convention at the Sheraton Towers.

The memorandum set the groundwork for an ambitious plan to develop a new Singapore space industry and create new jobs for Singaporeans in engineering. As part of such efforts, IN.Genius’s plan is to send a Singaporean astronaut into space by the nation’s 50th National Day.

Home-grown entrepreneur Lim Seng emphasised that the spaceman target was not a one-off event, but part of a larger series of flight testings towards developing a commercial space tourism vehicle that can accommodate six people.

Lim believes his start-up’s vision will put Singapore on the world map and attract more tourists. However, Lim highlighted that “fervent support from the government” is key to break into the “high-barrier” space business.

Students get to benefit too

“This research collaboration will also serve as a learning platform for our students and impressing upon them the importance of engineering in today’s society,” said assistant professor Daniel New from Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

New will be collaborating with IN.Genius to conduct wind tunnel testing, in assessing aerodynamic performance of planned space vehicles. The company is also speaking with relevant government agencies for flight planning and local scholastic institutions for aerodynamics testing.

Singapore-born citizens with a pilot licence are invited to volunteer as astronauts-in-training for the space travel mission. They can send their CV at this link by May 30 this year.

Local firm ST Electronics also announced plans Thursday to launch the first commercial satellite made in Singapore by 2015 to aid research in fields such as maritime security and environmental monitoring.

The firm joins NTU and National University of Singapore (NUS) in satellite plans announced Thursday. NTU will send a student-developed second satellite in 2016 to aid in tropical weather research, while NUS confirmed plans to develop a hyperspectral-imaging 50kg microsatellite.