LAPAN or Lembaga Antariksa dan Penerbangan Nasional (English: National Institute of Aeronautics and Space) is the government space agency. it was established on november 27, 1964 by President Suharto. Its function similar to NASA that responsible for long term civilian and military aerospace research.
For several years, there was no big news from LAPAN that incorporated with their program since their rocket launching test performed in 1962 with “Kartika” as the rocket code name. The different story is being delivered by LAPAN at this moment. After their collaboration with Germany institute (TU of Berlin) to develop micro satellite up to its service now (called LAPAN-TUBSAT satellite; launched in 2007), they started growing the intensity of the program, in developing new Indonesian built satellites and rocket testings prior to launching program that scheduled in 2014.
Proving their capability and independence, LAPAN now finishing LAPAN-A2 as improved LAPAN-TUBSAT and Communication Repeater Satellite for Indonesian Amateur Radio Association in Bogor, West Java.
The launching to the orbital of those satellites are planned using Indian rocket in 2009 and 2010 with piggy back method. Especially for the LAPAN-A2, it has additional improvements by adding some components results in heavier load with 65 kgs than 57 kgs LAPAN-TUBSAT, designed to have long distance remote sensing or surveying with resolution 5 and 200 meters, GPS transmitter for satellite position and time, altitude determination and control system (AD-CS) for body controlling system and stability especially during data acquisition, data storage and automatic camera control to reach specific geographic area. The size of LAPAN-A2 is 60 cm x 60 cm x 80 cm.
A variety of satellite application and increasing demand of this media, worsened by embargo/veto for Indonesia not to purchase any kind of rocket components, drive Indonesia to empower all internal capability and resources independently building and developing rocket as orbital satellite launcher.
LAPAN that already 45 years on November 27, since 2007 had boosted rocket and satellite study and development, especially after got ability to produce solid rocket fuel.
In 2007, RX-250 (250 mm) had been launched successfully with distance 53 kms. After good result on static test, RX-320 rocket has successfully launched in Pameungpek, West Java on May 19, 2008 by transmitting navigation system data, aerodynamics performance, trajectory, environment condition and any obstruction during launching. The special improvement from this test was RX-320 rocket used Indonesian own solid propellant. RX-320 rocket has dimension 320 mm diameter x 4,736 mm long and weight 532 kgs. The trust power is 52 ton/sec and reached 42 kms as per design.
After successfully launched that experimental rocket with diameter 320 mm or coded RX-320 (the biggest so far for Indonesian built rocket), LAPAN again succeeded static test RX-420 on Tuesday (23/12/2008) at LAPAN Aerospace Technology Center, Tarogong, Tangerang. In 2009, Chief of LAPAN Adi Sadewo Salatun said after successful static test of RX-420, rocket launching program will be continued in 2009.
Testing of experimental rocket with diameter 420 mm (RX-420) has been postponed for a week because still required additional ballast load at propulsion tail for safety reason. In firing condition, this rocket may have 10 tons in 11 sec. From the test, the performance is slightly better than design, especially on boosting power. Its launching schedule is rumored will be sometime in July 2009 after the first stage of Indonesian president election.
This RX-420 rocket is the main part of the first LAPAN satellite orbital launching vehicle (SLV-1) that scheduled in 2014, said by Yus Kadarusman Markis, chief of LAPAN Aerospace Technology Center. SLV-I consists of three-stage rockets, which is in the first stage will be three RX-420 as booster, in second stage one RX-420 as sustainer and the last is three RX-320. With that configuration and LAPAN solid fuel, the SLV-1 has capability to launch nano satellite to the orbit.
One RX-420 rocket weighs up to 2 tons is designed to have distance range about 120 kms,. With SLV-1 configuration, it may reach a vertical height up to 400 kms. This rocket can be loaded 50 kgs load to be able to the orbit minimum 250 kms high and at horizontal speed at 8 kms/sec.
For the next development, LAPAN will develop rockets with bigger diameter, such as RX-540 dan RX-750 and liquid fuel that has better performance than solid fuel. RX-420 is the sixth rocket developed by Lapan after 70, 100, 150, 250, and 320 mm.
As the limited budget as the major problem (as usual for Indonesia) for funding the research and experimental work, LAPAN still has many agendas in their work. One of that is there is a plan to modify the function of this developed rocket for military use to be balistic missile as a part of state independence on domestic built main strategic armament. However, LAPAN is not involved on that policy and it solely government decision (c.q. defense ministry and etc).
Taken from several sources (LAPAN, Kompas, etc).