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Ethiopia: Space Institute Gears Up to Launch First Satellite Next Year

Plans for Ethiopia to launch its first earth observatory satellite in September 2019 are underway. Ethiopia will be joining a list of a few African countries that have already put their devices into orbit.

The Director General of the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute at Addis Ababa University, Dr Solomon Belay Tessema said that the satellite would be launched from China, but the control and command station would be in Ethiopia. He added that their scientists had already completed most of the preliminary and critical design.

According to Dr Tessema, In addition to providing training and injecting $6 million into the project, China also collaborated with Ethiopia on the development, design and manufacturing of the satellite which cost $8 million.

Dr Tessema explained that the primary goal for launching the first satellite was to upskill Ethiopian engineers through collaborations with different countries. In so doing, the technology and knowledge transfer will allow the Ethiopian scientists to design, build and launch the second satellite independently using what they had learned.

20 aerospace engineers from Ethiopia are involved in the satellite project, and approximately 60 masters and PhD students are participating in research and training at the space institute.

Ethiopia is joining forces with observatory centres and universities from around the world including France, the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Russia, Spain, South Africa, Chile and South Korea.

The space programme has included students from Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda in the project.

Another main reason for launching these satellites is to save the country from spending money buying data and information it could put together for its development agenda.

Dr Tessema announced that the satellite would be used to gather data on climate change, water, agriculture and the environment.

Ethiopia will be joining the list of seven other African countries that have already built and launched their satellites. These countries are namely South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Algeria, and Morocco.

Angola sent off its first satellite in December 2017 but unfortunately lost it four months later. Russia, which built that first satellite, is building another one for Angola and it will be launched in 2020.

In 2017, the African Union approved an African space policy magnifying the need to take up a framework to make use of satellite communication for economic progress and for the development of a continental outer-space programme.

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