The Vietnam National Satellite Centre (VNSC) announced on November 20 it has received first signals sent back down to earth from a Vietnamese manufactured micro satellite which is now going into space.

Pico Dragon was sent to the International Space Station (ISS) in August 2013 by Japan's Kounotori-4 (HTV-4) cargo spacecraft, together with three other such NASA satellites, VNSC was quoted by The Voice of Vietnam as saying.

The satellite, the first of its kind developed by Vietnamese engineers and researchers for launching into space, was put into orbit at 07.17pm on November 19 (Vietnam time) and it re-sent signals back to earth stations in Japan four hours later.

Shortly after that, the VNSC’s earth station received signals from Pico Dragon when the satellite traversed over the Vietnamese territory.

Pico Dragon is a 10x10x11.35cm cube and weighs nearly one kilogram. It is assigned to capture images of the earth, collect space environment data and test communication systems.

It was developed by young engineers and researchers from the VNSC under the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST). VNSC engineers are contacting other earth stations in the world to keep a close watch on the movement of the satellite.

On May 7, 2013, Vietnam's first remote sensing satellite - VNREDSat-1 - was launched into orbit from the European Space Centre in Kourou in French Guiana in South America. The 120kg satellite was built by the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company's Astrium and can take images of the Earth with a resolution of 2.5 metres.

VNREDSat-1 - - short for Vietnam Natural Resources, Environment and Disaster Monitoring Satellite - is Vietnam's third satellite in orbit after the launches of two communications satellites Vinasat 1 and Vinasat 2 in 2008 and 2012.-VNA