Uganda’s first satellite nears completion

Minister Dr. Monica Musenero. File Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Dr. Monica Musenero has revealed that the country’s first national satellite is nearing completion, and will be launched into the international space station in September this year.

The satellite named PearlAfricaSat-1, commenced two years ago in Japan. It’s being undertaken by three Ugandan space engineers along with Japanese engineers and other space experts from around the world.

The Ugandan engineers were enrolled at the Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech), in Japan where they underwent training in space technology following a collaborative agreement with the Ugandan government in 2019.

Dr. Musenero told Uganda Radio Network in an interview on Thursday that the satellite which has been under construction will be handed to other space experts on May 10, for inspection and rigorous testing.

She notes that it will later be handed to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a U.S. government agency to conduct its launch into space after undergoing all required tests.

She notes that investing in a satellite is crucial at the moment in easing data gathering, especially on weather forecasts, which Uganda has been depending on for information for a long time from other countries.

She notes that effects of climate change such as drought have always taken Uganda by surprise since they lack accurate data.

The country is also expected to benefit from the satellite once positioned in the international station for easy monitoring of pests such as desert locust invasion, and monitoring the East African Crude Oil pipeline among others.

The initiative is the latest mission of the Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite project, which helps train graduate students from developing countries in using innovative and cost-effective systems engineering and come out with their first satellites.

Uganda is among several African, Asian, and South American countries benefiting from the Birds Satellite project initiated in 2015 by the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan.

It’s yet unclear where the country’s satellite station will be established to serve as an operations and communications center for the satellites once it’s launched.

Already, the country boasts of an earth satellite center at Mpoma in Kyaggwe, Mukono district which was set up by former President Idi Amin with support from Japan in 1978.

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