Hearing that our scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Agency, known as Lapan, managed to develop the country’s first satellite — albeit only a micro one — is like an oasis in the middle of a desert of bad news. The media has been full of news from corruption scandals, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions to violence against minorities. In the economy, the news ranges from a weakening rupiah, crumbling infrastructure and a dependence on imported goods. That’s why proof that our scientists can create an advanced technology-based product, such as a satellite, is not only encouraging but also shows that given the right policies and capital, Indonesia is capable of becoming a space nation, an elite status only a few countries have achieved. Lapan this year will launch Indonesia’s first micro-satellite, and by 2018 it can start building a commercially viable communications satellite, which can be sold to other nations. The space institute says it can then start to develop rockets to launch the satellite without having to depend on India, for instance. However, these are long-term projects that need sustained and significant funding. As Lapan has proved, it can produce a real satellite, we believe it is time for our private sector to get involved, and work with Lapan on a win-win venture. Some will laugh at the nation’s efforts to develop satellite and rocket projects, pointing to the fact that millions of people across the country still live below the poverty line. Indonesia needs to be able to create its own high-technology goods, as India and China do, to avoid being permanently dependent on other countries. It falls on the shoulders of all of us, not only the government, to prove we can address poverty while allocating resources to build products that can compete with other nations, gradually lessening our status as a mere consumer. --- This article is taken from The Jakarta Globe. More articles at TheJakartaGlobe.com

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