Bangladesh joins NASA’s Artemis Challenge

Published : 28 Aug 2023 08:52 PM

In a historic stride, Bangladesh has seized a remarkable opportunity by participating in NASA’s Artemis Challenge. This prestigious endeavor will enable Bangladesh to contribute its very own Lunar Satellite (LunaSat) to grace the lunar landscape. Among the select group of 22 nations chosen for this mission, Bangladesh stands tall as a participant in this momentous journey.

Guided by the seasoned experts of the Great Lunar Expedition for Everyone (GLEE) Program, which is embarking on a remarkable journey to the Moon, these teams will traverse the intricate stages of design, development, programming, testing, launch, and data collection. 

The visionary mission will see the deployment of numerous Lunar Satellites (LunaSats) onto the lunar surface, conducting an array of local and distributed scientific ventures. With its hands-on activities and a worldwide network of citizen scientists, GLEE heralds a new era of inclusive lunar exploration that promises to captivate and involve the entire planet.

GLEE's noble objectives: Pioneering a transformed future

GLEE's mission is underpinned by four key objectives that promise to shape the future of space exploration: Pioneering Future Generations, Frontier Technology at its Finest, A Mindset of Progress and Igniting Global Inspiration.

The genesis of this remarkable journey traces back to a robotics program, where Mr. Zahid Hasan Shovon and his NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge rover team crossed paths with me during my tenure as the Joint Project Director at the Aspire to Innovate (a2i) Programme. This meeting would set the wheels in motion for a series of events that would culminate in a momentous lunar expedition.

In an unforeseen turn of events, NASA unveiled a captivating competition that promised a transformative opportunity: the chance to contribute to a satellite project destined for lunar deployment as part of NASA's mission. With unwavering enthusiasm, we embarked on the meticulous task of preparing an application that comprehensively outlined our project blueprint. With due diligence, we dispatched this proposal to NASA, hopeful that our aspirations would find resonance in the celestial corridors.

A pivotal moment arose when Mr. Zahid Hasan Shovon expressed a request that bore profound significance. He sought my involvement as the Official Team Mentor for this endeavor. Guided by a commitment to national progress and a desire to serve our country, I embraced this responsibility wholeheartedly.

As the cogs of fate turned, our collective efforts found fruition in an announcement from NASA. We stood among the chosen few, named as awardees of the GLEE Mission—an achievement that would reverberate through the corridors of innovation and exploration.

In consonance with the visionary Smart 

Bangladesh Vision, the nation envisions

 self-reliance in the realm of space by the 

year 2041. To usher this vision, the "AKASH" 

project, orchestrated under the aegis of the

 ICT Division, stands as a harbinger of transformation

Presently, under my direction, Mr. Shovon helms a team comprising nearly 60 adept individuals drawn from diverse educational institutions spanning the nation. This assembly of talents, bound by a shared vision, is primed to chart a course through uncharted celestial territories.

From its inception during a robotics program to its current status as a pioneering lunar mission, this tale encapsulates the essence of determination, collaboration, and the pursuit of astronomical frontiers. 

The voyage unfolds with promise, beckoning us to traverse the cosmos and inscribe our story across the tapestry of the stars.

In a testament to innovation's far-reaching grasp, a seminal chapter unfolds with NASA's dispatch of a satellite package through the esteemed conduit of FedEx. 

This endeavor, propelled by the collaborative efforts of stalwart entities, navigated from shipment to revelation, resonating with the echoes of national achievement.

As the narrative progressed, the parcel found its way from the Customs House at the Airport to a focal point of eminence. 

Here, it was unveiled before a confluence of eminent senior-level government officials, comprising luminaries such as Mohammad Mezbah Uddin Chowdhury, Senior Secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration, and Dr. Dewan Muhammad Humayun Kabir, the erstwhile Project Director (Joint Secretary) of the Aspire to Innovate (a2i) Program.

The crescendo of this journey materialized with the establishment of a satellite lab within the precincts of the a2i Innovation Lab, nestled within the hallowed halls of the National Museum of Science & Technology (NMST) at Agargaon. A solemn inauguration, graced by the presence of Dr. Dewan Muhammad Humayun Kabir, the then Project Director (Joint Secretary) of the Aspire to Innovate (a2i) Program, became a pivotal juncture. Presiding over this august occasion was a distinct honor I held in reverence.

The pursuit of exceptional talent was a pivotal facet, culminating in a rigorous talent hunt program that identified and recruited 38 volunteers from across prestigious educational institutions in Bangladesh. In tandem, 15 scholars from the distinguished Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Aviation and Aerospace University (BSMRAAU) lent their expertise. Together, this synergy coalesced into a formidable team of 60 individuals steering the helm of this grand endeavor.

In consonance with the visionary Smart Bangladesh Vision, the nation envisions self-reliance in the realm of space by the year 2041. To usher this vision, the "AKASH" project, orchestrated under the aegis of the ICT Division, stands as a harbinger of transformation. 

The reservoir of knowledge, skills, and experiences accrued from NASA's Artemis Mission assumes an instrumental role in shaping the course of Bangladesh's ascendance into the realm of space exploration.

Nahid Sultana Mallik is Project Director, Enhancing Digital Government and Economy 

(EDGE) Project