BHUTAN-1 over Earth (Iss056e130515) (cropped).jpg
BHUTAN-1 above Earth
Mission typeTechnology demonstration
OperatorKyushu Institute of Technology
SATCAT no.43591
Mission duration6-9 months (planned)
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type1U CubeSat
ManufacturerKyushu Institute of Technology
Launch mass1.11 kg
Dimensions10 × 10 × 11.35 cm
Start of mission
Launch date29 June 2018, 09:42 UTC
RocketFalcon 9 Full Thrust
Launch siteCape Canaveral, SLC-40
Deployed fromInternational Space Station
Deployment date10 August 2018
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit[1]
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Periapsis altitude355 km
Apoapsis altitude362 km
Joint Global Multi-Nations Birds Satellite
← Birds-1

BHUTAN-1 was the first Bhutanese nanosatellite to be launched into space. The satellite was built during Kyushu Institute of Technology's Birds-2 program. The Birds program helps countries fly their first satellite. BHUTAN-1 was launched into orbit aboard the SpaceX CRS-15 mission on 29 June 2018. It was deployed from the Kibō module of the International Space Station (ISS) on 10 August 2018. The satellite has cameras to image the Earth.


The Kyushu Institute of Technology (KIT) in Japan supports non-spacefaring countries to build their first satellite through a program called the Joint Global Multi-Nations Birds Satellite project (Birds). Five countries participated in the first Birds program (Birds-1).[2][3]

In 2016, Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay mentioned plans to set up a space agency with Bhutan's Information and Communications Ministry. According to Tobgay, plans to launch the first Bhutanese satellite to space came from Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.[4]

Three satellites were developed during the Birds-2 program: BHUTAN-1 (Bhutan), UiTMSAT-1 (Malaysia) and Maya-1 (Philippines). BHUTAN-1 was designed by Bhutanese graduate students who were pursuing their master's degree at Kyutech (Kyushu Institute of Technology).[5] The satellite was developed under the Kyushu Institute of Technology-led second Joint Global Multi-nations Birds Satellite (Birds-2).[6]


The Birds-2 project commenced in November 2016.[4] BHUTAN-1 is classified as a 1U CubeSat and measures 10 × 10 × 11.35 cm and weighs 1.11 kilograms (2.4 lb).[5][7] The satellite was developed and designed by a team of four Bhutanese engineers. The satellite is part of their master's degree in space engineering at Kyushu Institute of Technology.[8]

The designing and testing of BHUTAN-1 began by March 2017. The functions of each sub-system of the satellite was verified before the first engineering model of BHUTAN-1 was built in June of the same year. By October 2017, the second engineering model was completed and the development of the flight module commenced.[4]



Birds-2 in the JEM Small Satellite Orbital Deployer.
Birds-2 satellites deployed from the Kibō module.

BHUTAN-1 was launched to space on 29 June 2018, via the Falcon 9 Full Thrust rocket at Cape Canaveral in Florida, as part of the SpaceX CRS-15 Commercial Resupply Service mission.[5] Maya-1 and UiTMSAT-1 which were also developed under the Birds-2 project was also among the payload of the rocket.[9] BHUTAN-1 was deployed from Kibō module of the International Space Station (ISS) in August 2018, becoming the first Bhutanese satellite.[10]


The satellite operates at an altitude of 500 to 1,500 kilometres (310 to 930 mi) and passes over Bhutan for three to four minutes four to five times per day. Its designed lifespan is six to nine months, though reportedly it can last up to two years. BHUTAN-1's two cameras capture satellite imagery of Bhutan to help assess the country's glaciers, lakes, and forest cover. It also provides basic communication services and is used to study radiation effects on satellites.[5] While BHUTAN-1 was built solely by the Bhutanese, the satellite is jointly controlled and operated by the Bhutan, Malaysia, and Philippines.[6]

BHUTAN-1 is tracked from the ground station operated by the Information and Communications Ministry of Bhutan.[5]


  1. ^ "BHUTAN-1 – Satellite Information". Heavens Above. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  2. ^ "Bird B, BTN, G, J, M, MYS, N, PHL (BRAC Onnesha, GhanaSat-1, Toki, Mazaalai, Nigeria EduSat-1)". Gunter's Space Page. Archived from the original on 30 June 2017. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  3. ^ Francisco, Mikael Angelo (1 July 2018). "Space To Excel: Why The First Pinoy-Made Cube Satellite Matters". FlipScience. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "BHUTAN-1 expected to be in space by May 2018". Kuensel. 1 February 2018. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e Palden, Tshering (30 June 2018). "BHUTAN-1 leaves for space". Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Maya-1: Cube satellite latest Pinoy venture into space". Philippine Daily Inquirer. 1 July 2018. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  7. ^ "Joint Global Multi-Nations Birds Satellite project" (PDF) (in Japanese). Kyushu Institute of Technology. 26 February 2018. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  8. ^ Seldon, Perma (30 June 2018). "Bhutan launches its first satellite into space". The Bhutanese. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  9. ^ Panela, Shaira (29 June 2018). "Philippines launches first CubeSat into space". Rappler. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  10. ^ "Three CubeSats successfully deployed from Kibō as part of Birds Project!". JAXA. 17 August 2018. Retrieved 17 February 2020.