In a surprise move it was revealed today at the inaugural Space X event in Hua Hin, that the town is to become a technology hub for advanced space exploration and research.
It is also hoped that Thailand’s only astronaut, 47 year-old Poh Tlen from Udon Thani, will become the first Thai man to spend several months on the International Space Station when the first Thai mission blasts off in April 2017.
Hua Hin’s new Space X Programme
Speaking with press today, Mr Tlen said that people are generally surprised that Thailand is so active in space exploration and research. He believes that his participation will help promote Thailand’s ambitious space programme – which hopes to see a small colony established on Mars by 2035.
The Space X Centre, which is to replace the soon-to-be-demolished Hua Hin airport, is just the first step in a bigger push for space research and technologies in Thailand. It is hoped that the 14 men and women already in training to be astronauts (initially, hitching ride on NASA vehicles until 2017 when the first Thai launch vehicle will be ready) will make Thailand a leader in the APAC region in terms of space exploration and expertise.
“Our eventual goal is a research post and small colony on Mars, hopefully within the next 20 years”, said the Director of Space X, Mr Chawp Ginlao. The 50 billion baht in investment in Space X is just the first step that will see continued investment in Hua Hin and Thailand’s tech sector as a whole.
Industry experts believe that Thailand is well-placed to contribute towards the International Space Station research in future – particularly in terms of how food can be grown during any inter-planetary journey. When humans do reach Mars, rice cultivation may be one of the key activities to sustain life.
Joe-kson-yu, a prominent Korean expert in space agriculture and cultivation and advisor to SpaceX, said today that “Thailand is the world leader in rice research, and this allows us to play an important role in feeding the thousands of people who will make the journey to Mars within the next two decades”.
Propulsion and rocket tests underway
Thailand’s Space X programme is already well underway according to Ginlao, who says that they have been conducting propulsion and rocket tests in an ‘unknown location’ during the past year, and that those systems and vehicles will soon be relocated to the Space X centre in Hua Hin, just after Songkran.
Unfortunately, local Hua Hin residents are not happy with the news, according to Thaivisa reporters. Citing sources familiar with the matter, it’s claimed that more than 5,000 Rai in the north of Hua Hin will be ‘repurposed’ and thousands of residents (from Soi 6 north) will have to move, as their homes will be demolished ‘within months’.
We will keep you updated on all developments in the Space X programme over the next few months.