The Minister of Higher Education Science Research and Innovation Anek Laothamatas has ignited debate on social media once more after reiterating Thailand’s “mission to the moon” will be accomplished within seven years, using a budget of “only 3 billion baht”.
Speaking at a press conference to showcase his ministry’s accomplishments in 2020 on Friday, Mr Anek said that within five years, Thailand will produce satellites weighing 50-100kg, and in the following three years it will graduate to building spaceships able to leave the Earth’s orbit.
“The new economy of space travel will be a way for Thailand to overcome the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and then to escape the middle-income trap, and the ministry will embrace creativity and innovation,” he said.
An official announcement will be made on Jan 13 next year, he said.
On Twitter, many users pointed to the current problems of poverty among Thai people.
On Twitter, @Ben10Harem wrote, “Children [living in] mountainous areas still have to navigate treacherous terrain, wade through water and cross bridges to go to school… 3 billion baht can do a lot to solve current problems.”
@bkk001 gave another viewpoint. “Other countries have already [sent people] to the moon, what are we doing? When we [Thais] plan to do it, [critics ask] why?
“I am waiting to see the reaction when electric vehicles are produced in Thailand. Let’s see, [critics] who complained that we didn’t promote electric vehicles will soon begin to ask what the government plans to do with petrol vehicles and hybrids and that people will lose their jobs, etc,” he wrote.
On Dec 14, Mr Anek announced Thailand would be the fifth Asian nation to send its own spacecraft to the moon, after China, India, Japan, and South Korea.
Over the past two weeks since, Mr Anek’s space dream has been met mostly with scepticism on social media.