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African Countries Uganda and Zimbabwe Launch First Satellites

Ibadan, 11 November 2022. – Uganda and Zimbabwe have launched their respective first satellites, on November 7 2022, onto the International Space Station for subsequent deployment into orbit at a later date. The satellites, PearlAfricaSat-1 and ZimSat-1, launched at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Northrop Grumman (NG-18 Cygnus) commercial cargo resupply services to the ISS).

Speaking on the launch, the Coordinator of the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA), Dr Painos Gweme, the ISS crew members will deploy ZIMSAT-1 into space through the Japanese KiboCUBE module aboard the ISS. “It is going to be deployed in the KIBO module; it happens two or three weeks after launch, and we have scheduled it for November 21,” he said.
According to Space in Africa, the launch represents a milestone that will improve mineral exploration and monitoring of environmental hazards and droughts. Likewise, it will assist in mapping human settlements and disease outbreaks and deliver photos with a 20-meter resolution to help with analyses of water quality, soil fertility, land use, and cover.

The satellite launch results from the countries being beneficiaries of the Joint Global Multi-Nations Birds Satellite project, an initiative of the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) and the Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech). A cross-border University project, BIRDS, provides students from developing nations with hands-on satellite development, laying a foundation for similar space technology projects in their home countries that ultimately could lead to sustainable space programs there.

As a result, the BIRDS-5 will perform multispectral observations of Earth using a commercial off-the-shelf camera and demonstrate a high-energy electronic measuring instrument. The statistical data it collects will help distinguish bare ground from forest and farmland and possibly indicate the quality of agricultural growth. As a result, it may help improve the livelihood of the citizens of Uganda and Zimbabwe.

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