Africa

Take Off! NASA Launches Uganda, Zimbabwe’s First Satellites Into Orbit

Northrup Grumman’s Antares rocket lifts off the launch pad at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility Monday, Nov. 7, 2022, in Wallops Island. Va.Managing EditorOn Sunday, the launch was postponed a day, according to NASA, because of a fire alarm that went off at the mission operations control center in Dulles, Virginia. Initially, the mission planned for September was postponed to October, due to “bad weather,” and then to November 6.Two satellites created by engineers from Zimbabwe and Uganda have been launched into orbit by the US space agency.Both satellites were launched to the international space station on board the 18th Northrop Grumman commercial resupply services mission, which is expected to arrive at the International Space Station on Wednesday, November 9, to complete its primary mission.The PearlAfricaSat-1 satellite was developed by three Ugandan aerospace experts with the intention of Uganda setting up its own command center to control the satellite from within the country. According to the local media, the satellite is anticipated to be released in low earth orbit by a robot for it to begin delivering the necessary photographs. A multispectral camera payload on PearlAfricaSat-1 will reportedly be used for the research and observation of high-resolution image data to enhance weather forecasting, land, water, and mineral mapping, and agriculture monitoring.The country’s minister for Science and Technology, Monica Musenero, said that the satellite will prevent Uganda from having to rely on satellite data from other nations, which is sometimes held responsible for the inaccuracies in weather forecasts.Musenero noted that because Uganda lacks the necessary resources, NASA was launching the satellite, which was created by three Ugandan engineers. She stressed that aside from paying for the engineers’ training and the renovation of the national space center, Uganda had not paid NASA for the launch.The creation of the PearlAfricaSat-1 satellite began in April 2020 as a first step in establishing a national space program.For its part, the ZimSat-1 satellite, a part of the Japanese KIBO module, was developed and assembled by three Zimbabwean scientists who obtained support and training at Japan’s Kyushu Institute of Technology. The satellite is said to also be equipped with a multispectral camera, an image classification tool, and a transmitter and receiver for amateur radio operators’ transmissions. Before being launched into orbit later this month, the nanosatellite will connect with the International Space Station. Zimbabwe intends to use geospatial technology after it has been released to control its borders, estimate total mineral reserves, and assist telecoms firms in providing better services.

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