The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) is calling on designers, artists, and space enthusiasts to join the mission of the country’s first commercial-grade satellite in development, the Multispectral Unit for Land Assessment or MULA satellite, by creating its mission patch. The contest, in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry-Design Center of the Philippines (DTI-DCP), was launched during the Design Week Philippines celebration–the country’s festival for Filipino design and creativity. 

The mechanics of the contests were announced during the MULA Satellite Orientation held on 22 October in Escolta, Manila. The competition is open to all Filipinos 18 years old and above residing anywhere in the world. Employees and relatives of PhilSA and the DTI up to the second degree of consanguinity and affinity are ineligible from joining the contest. The complete mechanics and prizes can be found here.

Mission patches serve to symbolize the purpose and relevance of a specific space mission, and are meant to inspire the public to identify with and support these missions. Patches of Philippine satellites Diwata-1, Diwata-2, and the Maya CubeSats have been designed by scientists and engineers involved in their development. PhilSA is engaging the arts and design community through the mission patch design contest to make the development of the MULA satellite more inclusive. This is aligned with Design Week 2022 goal of celebrating “Design for All,” which underscores the role of design as a potent tool for positive impact and sustainable growth.

MULA Project Manager and PhilSA Spacecraft Mechanical and Autonomous Systems Development Division (SMASDD) Chief Science Research Specialist Engr. John Leur Labrador explains how the satellite intends to contribute socio-economic benefits for the country: “MULA, through high-resolution imaging, aims to provide usable information to improve the country’s agricultural sector, national defense, disaster management, coastal monitoring, and ocean studies.”

President Ferdinand R. Marcos has expressed his support for the development of MULA, eyed for launch in 2025. MULA is the biggest Earth observation satellite being built by the Philippines to date. It weighs 130 kilograms and carries a TrueColour camera capable of capturing 5 m resolution images covering around 73-thousand square kilometers in 24 hours. Data from MULA are envisioned to contribute to the country’s food security, disaster resilience, environment conservation, and national security. Its completion entails a government investment of P2.578 billion from 2023-2025, with P498.505M allocated for this year.

“The total return on investment from MULA over its projected lifetime of five (5) years from launch is more than double its investment cost. Based on the cost of medium-resolution satellite images similar to what MULA can produce, the potential gains from the satellite could reach P5.78 billion,” Engr. Labrador adds.

All mission patch design entries will undergo two (2) rounds of judging. Shortlisted entries will be notified via email. The deadline for submission will be on 20 November 2022.