Royal Thai Air Force launches first satellite

The Royal Thai Air Force has finally soared beyond the stratosphere, launching its first satellite into orbit last week. Meanwhile, the government is considering creating a defense industry industrial estate.

The Air Force contracted a Netherlands-based company to build the Napa-1 satellite that was sent skyward atop an Ariane Vega rocket at the Ariane Launch facility in French Guyana last Friday. The previous launch date in March was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The orbiter will provide Thailand with data for national security and also pinpoint forest fires, floods, and other natural disasters to aid response teams and rescue workers. Meanwhile, the government is considering creating a defense industry industrial estate.

Aerospace and aviation is a sector that Thailand’s government is committed to supporting as part of its national strategy to promote higher technology industries to achieve advanced development.

Aerospace and defense are industries with a track record of providing a foundation for technological advancement. Many everyday items and technologies Americans take for granted were first developed by researchers in its space program and by its military.

A Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) official told the Bangkok Post that Napa-1’s cameras would play a crucial role in the RTAF’s defense system, strengthening national security and preventing threats.

In July, the RTAF will launch a companion satellite, Napa-2, that will work in tandem with Napa-1. An official at the Air Force’s Space Operations Center said the cost of Napa-1 was under $3 million.

The government also said last week it is studying a plan to establish a military and defense industry industrial estate on military land in Kanchanaburi province in the west.

A Thai defense official said the goal would enable Thailand to develop its own military technology, reducing dependence on imported arms and also saving costs.

Photo courtesy of