UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to the ASEAN, Richard Graham, paid a courtesy visit to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) where he met with representatives of the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA), led by Deputy Director General for Science and Technology Dr. Gay Jane P. Perez.

Mr. Graham was joined by Her Excellency Laure Beaufils, British Ambassador to the Philippines and Palau; Dir. Richard Colley, Director of Trade and Investments of the British Embassy Manila, Ms. Emma Leister, Senior Trade Manager of the British Embassy Manila; and Tim Meaney, UK Export Finance Manager for the Philippines. Also present in the meeting were DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development Rowena L. Guevara, DOST Assistant Secretary for International Cooperation Dr. Leah J. Buendia, DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) Director Dr. Franz de Leon, DOST Chief Science Research Specialist Engr. Alvin Retamar, and International Science Relations Officer Ms. Charlene Basig.

PhilSA was also represented by three (3) of the sixteen (16) engineers involved in the development of MULA or the Multispectral Unit for Land Assessment (MULA) satellite: Dr. Julie Banatao, Chief Science Research Specialist of the Spacecraft Electrical and Computing Systems Development Division; Engr. Manuel del Rosario, Chief Science Research Specialist of the Spacecraft Mechanical and Autonomous Systems Development Division; and Engr. Daniel Rahayel, Supervising Science Research Specialist of the Spacecraft Electrical & Computing Systems Division.

Meeting the MULA Engineers

The UK Trade envoy met with the DOST and PhilSA representatives primarily to celebrate the success of the nine (9) MULA engineers who underwent training on satellite system design at the Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL), in the United Kingdom in 2021. 

Dr. Banatao presented updates on the MULA project, discussing both the team’s victories and challenges encountered in building the same. She further shared how it would open opportunities for the building of more sovereign satellites in the future. The MULA engineers also shared their experiences during the training with SSTL, highlighting how the mentorship helped them professionally beyond the confines of the laboratories they worked in.

Dr. Banatao is MULA’s Systems Engineer, while Engr. Rahayel and Engr. del Rosario were the Power Systems Engineer and Altitude and Orbit Control Systems Engineer, respectively. 

The UK commended Dr. Banatao, Engr. Rahayel, Engr. del Rosario, and the rest of the MULA team  for completing the said training and development program and for the development of the MULA concept design. 

Stronger ties on space initiatives

During the visit, Dr. Perez also delivered a presentation about PhilSA, its mandate, and the strides the Agency has been making in the space industry since its inception in 2019. She also shared the Agency’s progress in its internal manpower development and PhilSA’s ongoing engagement with its primary stakeholders through the conduct of its decadal survey.

UK PM’s Trade Envoy, DOST officials, DDG Gay Perez and MULA engineers who attended the courtesy visit

Meanwhile, Mr. Graham extended the UK’s appreciation for the Philippines’ continued engagement with the UK on the development of technology and innovation, specifically on space initiatives. Her Excellency Lauere Beaufils also manifested her office’s keenness in maintaining an active cooperation with DOST and PhilSA, both in terms of policy-making and industry-building.

UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy Richard Graham was in the Philippines on 14-18 February 2022 to meet with the country’s leaders to promote trade and investment ties with the UK, and to explore other areas of mutual collaboration between the two countries.