Ugandan satellite PearlAfricaSat-1 to be launched to the International Space Station in August

The PearlAfricaSat-1 via Bonny Omara on Twitter

Uganda has completed the development of its first satellite, to bring its aspirations in the field of outer space and space technology closer. In April 2020, Uganda began the path to launch its first satellite into space by sending three graduate students to obtain training in satellite design, manufacture and testing as part of a global program initiated in 2015 by the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan.

On Tuesday, May 10, 2022, the three students: Edgar Mugoni, Derek Tebuswicki and Bonnie O’Mara have successfully completed their work on a 10 cubic meter satellite named PearlAfricaSat-1 and have now handed it over to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for final testing.

Dr. Monica Musinero, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, indicated that, within five to eight days, JAXA will conduct a test on Uganda’s first satellite and deliver it to the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). ) for transport to the International Space Station. The satellite will later be deployed from the International Space Station to low Earth orbit, initially in August of this year.

“These students have completed the development of this satellite, and this morning we participated remotely in an event in the Prime Minister’s office where the government of Uganda, represented by the nation’s ambassador to Japan, handed over this satellite to the Japan Space Agency to finish some tests and those tests within About five days, after which it will wait for launch with other satellites by NASA in August.”

The engineers designed PearlAfricaSat-1 to provide research and monitoring data in six core areas. These areas include weather forecasts. land, water and mineral mapping; agriculture control; infrastructure planning; Border security and disaster prevention.

The primary tasks of the PearlAfricaSat-1 are a multispectral camera payload. The multispectral camera mission will provide 20m resolution images of Uganda to facilitate water quality, soil fertility, land use and cover analysis. The satellite will play a vital role in operating the oil and gas by monitoring the crude oil pipeline in East Africa. This will enable accurate weather forecasting by collecting remote sensor data to predict landslides and droughts. Once the satellite is in orbit, a Ugandan ground station will monitor its health for a few days before it begins carrying out its mission.

In 2019, Uganda’s Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation announced that the country had allocated a budget for capacity development in satellite development, which would see the nation launch its first satellite by 2022. Moreover, Uganda has plans to build a second satellite in Uganda with capacity development Young local engineers. Uganda plans to launch this second satellite by the end of 2024.

With expected launch dates approaching, Mosinero indicated that they are beginning to conduct initial evaluations of the redevelopment of the Mboma Earth space station. The minister added that while the expected redevelopment of Mbuma would be an important project, in the meantime, a group of Ugandans would be installing sensor stations. This group of Ugandans will include the aforementioned students as the station will facilitate satellite communication in one of the existing structures. Although the minister indicated that the government has not yet put in place the expected amount of funds for the redevelopment, local sources learned that the government has allocated US$200,000 (about Sh716.3 million) to improve the infrastructure at the station.

The station will be under the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF), Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL) and the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Space Innovation Programme.