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Date set for Zimbabwe satellite launch

by Staff reporter
23 Oct 2022 at 09:07hrs | Views
Zimbabwe's first satellite, ZimSat-1, will be launched into space on November 6 from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia, United States, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has confirmed, adding the feat could "help improve the livelihoods" of ordinary Zimbabweans.

ZimSat-1 will be on board the Cygnus NG-18, an uncrewed spacecraft that provides commercial cargo resupply services to the International Space Station (ISS). The spacecraft will also carry two other small satellites from Japan and Uganda.

In a statement, Ms Melissa Gaskill, an official with the NASA ISS programme research office, said ZimSat-1 will help the country enhance its geospatial mapping capabilities and collection of crucial data for the development of agriculture.

NASA is facilitating the launch.

Ms Gaskill said deployment of ZimSat-1 will "help improve the livelihood of citizens of Zimbabwe".

"The 18th Northrop Grumman commercial resupply services mission for NASA to the International Space Station carries out scientific investigations of topics such as plant mutations and mudflow structure along with a demonstration of camera technology and small satellites from Japan, Uganda and Zimbabwe," she said.

ZimSat-1 is being sent into space under the BIRDS-5 project - a collaborative initiative involving the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA), Japan's Kyushu Institute of Technology and Uganda's Ministry of Science and                               Technology.

"BIRDS-5 is a constellation of cubesats: Pearl AfricaSat-1, the first satellite developed by Uganda; ZimSat-1, Zimbabwe's first satellite; and TAKA from Japan.

"BIRDS-5 performs multispectral observations of earth using a commercial off-the-shelf camera and demonstrates a high-energy electronic measuring instrument.

"The statistical data collected could help distinguish bare ground from forest and farmland and possibly indicate the quality of agricultural growth.

"This could help improve the livelihood of citizens of Uganda and Zimbabwe," she added.

ZINGSA coordinator, Dr Painos Gweme, confirmed the development.

"The launch of the mission means the Zimbabwean team, which has been in Japan since November 2021, working on the satellite, will be returning home, marking the end of a successful scientific expedition."

ZimSat-1's launch into orbit is considered the first baby steps of the country's space programme, which began in 2018 following the establishment of ZINGSA.

It is envisaged the satellite will immensely enhance the country's mineral exploration, monitoring of environmental hazards and mapping of human settlements, among other capabilities.

Source - The Sunday Mail