What is the "BIRDS Network"?
Foremost, it is a human network. It brings together all persons who are connected to the Kyutech BIRDS Project – students, former students, professors, engineers, stakeholders, university staff, and the like. This project started with "BIRDS-1 Project" back in October of 2015 – and was originally called "Joint Global Multi Nation Birds (JGMNB)" Project. As the name is long and unwieldy, it became commonly known as the BIRDS Project.
JGMNB also represents the nation members of that first project. Namely, Japan, Ghana, Mongolia, Nigeria, and Bangladesh.
The CDR (Critical Design Review) of the BIRDS-1 satellite project occurred in June of 2016 on the Tobata Campus of Kyutech. We invited all stakeholders to attend the CDR. So for this occasion, we jointly organized the First BIRDS International Workshop. The official group photo is below.
This group photo was taken by Mr Wakabayashi (Kyutech, International Affairs Division) during the afternoon coffee break of Day 1 (27 June 2016) of the workshop. President of Kyutech (Prof. Oie) is sitting dead center. The woman next to him is Dr. Carlene of ANUC, Ghana; the man next to him is Prof. Bat-Erdene Regsuren (red tie), former president of the National Univ. of Mongolia. Prof. Mengu Cho is at the far right of this photo. The workshop is fully documented in the BIRDS Project Newsletter, Issue No. 6. All back issues are here:
At the end of the workshop, a "Letter of Intent (LOI)" was drafted and all present signed this LOI. The LOI describes the BIRDS Network, and consists of the following Eight Points:
1. Taking advantage of the successful start of the BIRDS Project, the participants will move forward to form cross-border inter-university collaboration on space research and education – which will be known as the "BIRDS Network".
2. Its Mission Statement is "To advance the peaceful use of outer space for the benefit of humanity by using a network of universities conducting space research and education".
3. Each member institution of the BIRDS Network will launch its own space research and education program. Kyutech graduates who were engaged in the original BIRDS Project will form the core members of these home-based programs.
4. Kyutech will assist the start-up of these programs through the exchange of faculty and students. All members are encouraged to arrange exchange programs.
5. BIRDS Network members will devise and undertake various joint projects -- such as a joint satellite development project, an application to the KiboCUBE Program of UNOOSA, etc. BIRDS Network members can also implement various joint activities utilizing the BIRDS Ground Station Network, which was established for the original BIRDS Project (2015-2017).
6. The BIRDS Network will have a periodic workshop (at least once in two years) to report the progress of space research and educational activities, exchange information, formulate new joint projects, and so on. This periodic workshop will be organized by BIRDS Project graduates and other students of member universities. Accordingly, the next workshop will be held in 2018; any member institution can volunteer to serve as the workshop host. Each member institution is expected to present results and progress of its space research and education activities in the form of oral presentations.
7. The BIRDS Network will establish a Steering Committee which consists of one representative from each member. The Steering Committee meets on regular basis by video conference or other means. All expenses (such as travel) are to be borne by each participant in the spirit of reciprocity.
8. The BIRDS Network welcomes new member institutions.
The BIRDS Network continues to grow. With the kick-off of BIRDS-2 Project in October of 2016, these nations joined: Bhutan, Malaysia, and the Philippines. With the kick-off of BIRDS-3 in October of 2017, these nations joined: Sri Lanka and Nepal. Each new member has been signing the aforementioned LOI.
What Kyutech hopes to achieve with the BIRDS Network: We hope that all members of the network will be like members of "a family". We hope through varied and diverse interaction, they will initiate their own new activities. We can learn from each other. We can share notes with each other.
A central activity for all concerned is developing new national space programs. This is easier to do when there are people to share notes with. Graduates of Kyutech need our support if they are to succeed at developing new national space initiatives at their home countries. A thriving BIRDS Network is one way to support them. The BIRDS network activity is supported by JSPS Core-to-Core program from April 2017 to March 2020.
What is JSPS Core-to-Core?
The explanation from JSPS is right here:
JSPS seeks to create sustainable "research hubs" involving Japanese universities and overseas academic partners. To achieve this goal, JSPS provides "seed" money to help things get started. The BIRDS Project applied for such funding in 2017 and JSPS approved the application. BIRDS Project is mentioned at the following JSPS website under "List of adopted projects":
We are shown under this heading:
Project number: "7"
"Data Collection Network in Asia, Africa, and Latin America by CubeSat Constellation"
Project (primary) coordinator:
"Prof. Mengu Cho, Kyushu Institute of Technology"
A two-page description of the project in Japanese can be found here:
Thanks to generous funding by JSPS Core-to-Core, the BIRDS Project is able to conduct these three BIRDS workshops at overseas venues
1. 2017: 2nd BIRDS International Workshop, Ghana [completed]
2. 2018: 3rd BIRDS International Workshop, Mongolia
3. 2019: 4th BIRDS International Workshop, Bangladesh
At these workshops, participants give formal presentations, have technical discussions, and have an opportunity to informally chat with other BIRDS family members. This exchange of information occurred at the Ghana workshop – and became the model for all future workshops.
Additional information about these workshops can be found below.