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Ethiopia and India Raise Prospect of Space Cooperation

Image courtesy of NASA.

Ethiopia and India have raised the possibility of space cooperation with each other after a state visit to the Horn of Africa country by Indian President Ram Nath Kovind on October 5-7, 2017.

The Ethiopian government announced in early 2017 that it intends to build its own medium-sized space launch vehicle (SLV) and develop the capabilities to domestically build satellites. The Ethiopian Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) said that it will develop a medium-sized SLV that should have its maiden launch within the next three years, according to MOST spokesperson Wondwosen Andualem.

Andualem also pointed out that Ethiopian capacity and capability to build its own satellites is increasing, thanks in part to the partnerships forged by Ethiopia with foreign governments and companies. The Ethiopian government has already stated that it seeks to develop and build satellites for the purposes of national security, disaster management and response, and land management.

“With our space programmes to inspire us, the sky is the limit for India and Ethiopia literally,” said President Kovind of India during his visit to Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian government, however, has indicated that it intends to build both the proposed SLV and satellites locally with minimum reliance on foreign partners.

In order to facilitate Ethiopian space efforts, the government has created a Space Science Council, as well as the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute, both chaired by the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn.

In November 2015, the Mekele Institute of Technology in Ethiopia launched a rocket called Alpha Meles to an altitude of 30 kilometres. The Alpha Meles rocket is believed to cost U.S.$2.3 million to develop, build, and launch, but there have been no reports of any subsequent launches of the rocket.

There are a number of reasons why Ethiopia’s space ambitions may not become reality, not least of which are enduring political instability and a rapidly slowing economy. This said, however, space programmes can be remarkably resilient in uncertain political and economic circumstances.

The prospect of Ethiopian-Indian space cooperation comes at a time of intense geopolitical competition in the Horn of Africa among outside powers such as China, India, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Original published at: https://spacewatch.global/2017/10/ethiopia-india-raise-prospect-space-cooperation/

 

 

 

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