Ethiopia is set to launch its first Earth Observatory (EO) satellite in September of 2019, joining a list of few African countries that have put the devices into orbit, this according to a news report in the African Globe online publication, authored by Andualem Sisay.
“The satellite will be launched from China while the control and command station will be in Ethiopia,” said Dr. Solomon Belay Tessema, the director general of the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute at the Addis Ababa University. He added that “most preliminary and critical design is done by our scientists.”
China has provided training and funding for the project, according to Dr. Solomon, who added that the design, development and manufacturing of the satellite, done in collaboration with the Chinese, cost $8 million.
“Our main goals for launching this first satellite are two. The first is to build technology application capacity and skills of our engineers through collaborations with different countries’ space scientists and institutions,” said Dr. Solomon.
He noted that the technology and knowledge transfer will enable the Ethiopian scientists “design, build and launch the second satellite independently.” There are 20 Ethiopian aerospace engineers involved in the satellite project.
The second goal, according to Dr. Solomon, was to save the country from spending money buying data and information it could collect for its development agenda. He told reporters that the satellite will be used to gather data on water, agriculture, climate change and the environment.
Ethiopia will join seven other African countries that have built and launched satellites. They are South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana, Algeria, Morocco, and neighboring Kenya — which launched its smallsat in May 2018. Angola launched its first satellite in December 2017 but lost it four months later. Russia, which built the communication satellite, is building another one for Angola, which is set for launch in 2020.
In 2017, the African Union passed an African space policy calling for the adoption of a framework to use satellite communication for economic progress and the development of a continental outer-space program.