Latest News Editor's Choice

News / Local

Zimbabwe in historic space satellite launch

by Staff reporter
08 Nov 2022 at 05:03hrs | Views
Zimbabwe yesterday orbited its first satellite, ZimSat-1, through a Japanese facility on an American launcher, as the Second Republic continues to upgrade its practical technology to achieve Vision 2030, in this case having a dedicated satellite for Zimbabwean mapping rather than having to rely on others.

The country joined the league of nations that already own satellites when it sent its first satellite, ZimSat-1, into orbit after developing it through the BIRDS project.

Once the process is complete within days Zimbabwe will now enhance its mineral exploration, land and water mapping, weather forecasting and monitoring of environmental hazards and droughts.

Other benefits will include aiding in mapping human settlements infrastructure and border security.

President Mnangagwa has been the force behind the success demonstrated when he launched the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA) in 2018 which culminated in yesterday's historic feat.

The launch expedited the country's capabilities in the generation, access, use and regulation of the application of space technology and innovation for sustainable development.

ZimSat-1 yesterday morning started its journey into space through a spacecraft, the Northrop Grumman (NG-18 Cygnus).

It lifted off from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia, US.

The NG-18 Cygnus spacecraft is a commercial cargo resupply service to the International Space Station and carries satellites on behalf of NASA.

Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Permanent Secretary Professor Fanuel Tagwira said the satellite has been a major gain.

"We have made a milestone. The satellite was tested on the ground and it is working very well.

"It has been deployed to the International Space Station awaiting deployment. The actual date for deployment will be announced in a few days to come,.

Prof Tagwira also said Zimbabwe being an innovation-led and knowledge-driven economy, through satellite it is now able to gather information which can be used for decision making.

"We are getting into that phase of development as a country where we can gather information we can use in agriculture, health and other areas," he said.

"We will have real time data instead of waiting for data coming from other people. Zimbabwe is going to be in a very good position to collect its own information which it can use for decision making," he said.

Prof Tagwira said among the uses of the satellite it can help on crop estimates as the country will be able to get information from the use of its own satellite.

He said on pollution of rivers and dams Zimbabwe can collect information on regular bases checking if there is decrease or increase in pollution levels.

One of the space scientists, Timothy Kuhamba was on cloud nine over the historic feat.

"Who said dreams don't come true?

"Thank you, Government of Zimbabwe and Kyushu Institute of Technology BIRDS team members for making this dream come true. ZIMSTAT-1 to the world," he said.

Scientist Kuhamba said the rocket carrying ZIMSTAT-1, Antares 230+ is a two-stage expendable rocket designed by Northrop Grumman to launch the Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station.

He said it is capable of carrying up to 8 000kg into low earth orbit being the largest rocket operated by the company.

ZINGSA coordinator Painos Gweme said the first process done yesterday was that of the rocket leaving earth to the international space station where it is going to dock and take out the cargo into the international space station.

Gweme said the actual deployment of ZimSat-1 into space will be through the Japanese KIBO module.

He said the deployment in the KIBO module happens after two to three weeks, but there can be some changes depending on the weather and other issues.

Gweme said the country will use the satellite to access real time information that can aid development.

"This has a multi-sectoral camera which has a remote standing camera which we are going to use primarily for agricultural application, crop yield estimation, land cover and land use.

"We can see our forestry and the change over time because it has what we call a store and forward mission as part of the pilot which we are going to use together with the ground centre terminal," he said.

The satellite was supposed to be launched on Sunday but there was a fire alarm (an electrical shortcut) at the control centre prompting authorities to reschedule the launch for yesterday.

The satellite has sensors which can detect humidity and this information can be downloaded at the ground station in Mazowe, Mashonaland Central. It can also be used for urban and rural planning.

The work towards occupying space has seen three Zimbabwean scientists being trained. They will be in charge of the satellite launch programme.

Since its launch, ZINGSA has developed a National Wetlands Masterplan through its Geospatial Science and Earth Observation department.

The department also developed a Revised Agro-Ecological Map for Zimbabwe.

Source - The Herald
More on: #Air, #Zimbabwe, #Ircraft