Japan suspends controversial satellites for Myanmar in space

It’s the size of an oversized shoebox and is actually supposed to take photos for agriculture and disaster relief: the Japanese University of Hokkaido and the Myanmar Aerospace Engineering University (MAEU) joined forces for the satellite project “Lawkanat-1” – but that was in before the bloody military coup Myanmar.

Human rights groups such as Justice for Myanmar and Human Rights Watch had warned that the military in the country could use the images from the satellite to commit further crimes. The University of Hokkaido, on the other hand, stated that “everything will be done to prevent this satellite from being used for military purposes.” Only Japanese staff will initially look after the device. In addition, one will only take pictures of countries and regions in which there is no risk of military use.

The cameras on board the satellite are not particularly efficient when compared to commercial earth observation or even spy satellites. The Japanese also point this out in their statement: The resolution and frequency of observation by the small satellite are “the same or lower” compared to commercial satellites, “which are currently available to everyone at low cost” – and therefore “have no value for military use . ”

But the cameras on ┬╗Lawkanat-1┬ź are technically to be taken seriously. The resolution is given as up to 2.2 meters. The military could also relate to such images, especially if they were very topical. The University of Hokkaido assures, however, that there is neither a ground station nor trained staff in Myanmar. The satellite and the images it took will only be handed over if the political and social conditions in the country are stable and peaceful use can be guaranteed.


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