Uganda successfully launched its first satellite to the International Space Station on Monday after it was built by three Ugandan and Japanese engineers as part of a multinational satellite design program.
The country’s hub satellite, PearlAfricaSat-1, will be deployed to low Earth orbit in late December.
According to the country’s Ministry of Science and Technology, PearlAfricaSat-1 is expected to provide research and monitoring data that will provide solutions for weather forecasting, land and water bodies, mineral mapping and agricultural monitoring.
Others are disaster prevention, infrastructure planning and border security.
The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Monica Mosinero, said that the new space services that will be available next year will be a catalyst for the country’s economy, benefiting many sectors.
“As a country, the development of PearlAfricaSat-1 provides opportunities for the subsequent local development of satellites in Uganda, which means that our engineers and scientists will provide practical solutions to the challenges facing Ugandan citizens and the country’s in-house capabilities to develop the value chain of the space science and technology industry,” said Mosinero.
The successful satellite project, operational since April 2020, was developed as part of the BIRDS-5 project, for which the three Ugandan engineers on the team received training in satellite design, fabrication and testing.
BIRDS-5, which aims to take the first steps towards creating a domestic space program through the design, construction, testing, launch and operation of the first satellites of participating countries, will be implemented in cooperation with the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan with Zimbabwe.
Three Ugandan students Edgar Mugoni, Derek Tebuswicki and Boni O’Mara – who also have a master’s degree in Space Systems Engineering – are tasked with designing, testing and launching Uganda’s first satellite into space.
They will also provide specialist training in satellite development to Ugandan senior engineers and establish Uganda’s first satellite communications network and laboratory to facilitate knowledge transfer.
The satellite was recently delivered to NASA for transport to the International Space Station, where it will be placed in low Earth orbit.
The satellite will be operated from Uganda and all its data will be analyzed and used by a ground station in Uganda.
Uganda is also building a ground station at Mboma in Mukono for the Ugandan command, control and management of PearlAfricasat-1.