Sonam Phuntsho
Sonam with a satellite ground station for emergency communications satcom network, digital broadcasting, remote connectivity, DSNG and backup telecom backhauling

Sonam Phuntsho

Electrical Engineer

Star Power: Bhutan’s Space Trailblazer

meet sonam

Sonam Phuntsho is Chief of Division of Telecom and Space, Department of Information Technology and Telecom, Ministry of Information & Communications for the Royal Government of Bhutan. Among his many accomplishments, he participated in launching the first satellite for Bhutan, building the first nation-wide high-speed fiber optics backbone network, establishing an emergency communications network for disaster communications using SATCOM network, and establishing a high-speed national research and education network. He is the recipient of the Australian Leadership Awards Scholarship.

Star Power: Bhutan’s Space Trailblazer
Nominated by: Matthew DeSantis MI'18
Class of 2021 Location Bhutan
Sonam at his operation desk
Sonam at his operation desk

Bhutan embraced modernization starting in the early 1960s after a long period of self-imposed isolation. Road networks were built followed by an analog telecommunication network in the 1970s. Bhutan introduced the Internet and TV in 1999. Since then, Bhutan’s progress has accelerated.

I am inspired by the vision of His Majesty The King to harness space science and technologies for the benefit of Bhutanese people and to engage the Bhutanese youth in taking up STEM education. Space-exploration activity in Bhutan was initiated in 2016 by sending Bhutanese engineers to Japan. The country’s first satellite, BHUTAN-1, was designed and developed entirely by Bhutanese engineers and was launched in 2018.

“Due to the work of my division, Bhutanese youth can now look beyond the horizon and into space for their future endeavors.”

- Sonam Phuntsho

In 2019, I coordinated Bhutan’s participation in the NameExoWorlds Project being carried out by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). We successfully named a star and exoplanet which caught national attention and participation by students. Due to the work of my division, Bhutanese youth can now look beyond the horizon and into space for their future endeavors.

Bhutan’s participation in the South Asia Satellite is another major milestone in taking forward His Majesty’s Royal Vision that extends to the frontiers of space. This has fostered the adoption of technology for emergency communications for disaster management, digital broadcasting on Ku band to reach the most inaccessible parts of Bhutan, remote sensing, weather forecasting, and digital news gathering. These milestones benefit this small Himalayan developing nation.

never stop exploring


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